Press Release
October 31, 2015

Recto calls for early contract signing for '52 battalions' of health workers gov't will hire

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today called for the early hiring and quick deployment of the "52 battalions" of medical professionals the government would hire next year for rural duty.

Under the Department of Health's (DOH) 2016 budget, some 946 doctors, 15,727 nurses, 3,100 midwives, 308 medical technologists, 324 dentists, and 713 public health associates "will be hired or rehired" at a payroll cost of P7.04 billion.

The number of doctors to be hired next year is 548 more than the 398 currently deployed while next year's quota of nurses is 2,227 more than the 13,500 hired nurses this year.

The Health department will also recruit 110 new dentists to augment the 214 currently on the field. The said personnel to be hired are in addition to those DoH-operated hospitals would take in next year.

The 21,118 health professionals will be sent to rural health units and clinics run by local governments. "This is the national government's contribution to the local health manpower pool," Recto said.

Under the existing government "division of labor," health services is devolved to local governments, which run provincial and district hospitals, and municipal and city health offices.

The DoH, however, retains control of regional hospitals and major medical centers.

Recto said the effect of the approval of the 2016 national budget, and with it the P7.1 billion fund for the Rural Health Practice Program, is that contracts of those presently employed by the program can be automatically extended.

"What should be recruited as quickly as possible are the 548 new doctors, the 2,227 additional nurses, and the new med techs and dentists," Recto said.

"My unsolicited advice is that the DoH should post hiring notices now to jumpstart the hiring process so that the new hires can be in their stations as early as January next year. There is no reason to tarry because these are anticipated vacancies," he said.

"Kasi kung January pa lang magsisimula ng proseso eh baka summer na at meron na tayong bagong presidente, hindi pa rin nare-recruit ang mga bagong duktor," he said.

Official updates from the DoH showed delays in the recruitment of physicians with only 194 out of the authorized 398 slots in the "Doctors to the Barrios" program filled as of last March 31, Recto said. "But to its credit, the DoH hiring speed is far better than DepEd's," Recto said, citing the latter's failure to hire one teacher - out 39,066 positions opened this year - in time for the June 1 class opening.

Recto said a 41 percent hike in the budget of the DoH will allow it to "hire more personnel, buy more equipment, build more wards, immunize more children, insure more people" in 2016.

The jump in the DoH budget from P87.8 billion this year to P124.2 billion next year "is an impressive one never before seen in history," the senator said. If these were Army soldiers, they can form 52 infantry battalions."

"The bottomline is this: DOH will be spending P100 million more per day in 2016 than what it is spending daily this year," Recto said.

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