Sat, 28 May 2022

MANILA - In recognition of their efforts to respond to the pandemic, the provision of Covid-19 benefits to health care workers (HCWs) will continue in 2022, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

The DOH was allocated PHP1.08 billion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2022 for the grant of sickness and death benefits to health care workers who contracted Covid-19 in the line of duty.

In a news release, the DOH said it would be issuing a joint administrative order with the Department of Budget and Management on the guidelines for the grant of benefits.

In line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte's pronouncement that the HCWs should be given higher Special Risk Allowance (SRA) in 2022, commensurate with their risks, the DOH will be implementing the One Covid-19 Allowance (OCA) this year.

Benefits, which have been previously enjoyed by a limited number of HCWs -- active hazard duty pay for public health workers; meals, accommodation and transportation allowance; and the special risk allowance, for HCWs directly catering or exposed to Covid-19 patients -- will be discontinued and replaced by a more inclusive and responsive OCA.

The OCA would be provided to all health workers involved in Covid-19 response in line with the National Action Plan Covid-19 strategy of Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, Rehabilitation, and Vaccination (PDITR+) strategy.

The DOH said the allowance would be equitably distributed to HCWs, taking into account their Covid-19 exposure classification -- this considers the type of health facility where they are assigned, work setting, and nature of work.

Those classified to be high risk will be eligible for PHP9,000 per month while those classified as moderate and low risk shall be given PHP6,000 and PHP3,000, respectively. The OCA is pro-rated.

"We are working hard to make certain that all our HCWs are well-taken care of by providing them with benefits that will recognize their efforts in fighting through the Covid-19 pandemic," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

A budget of PHP50 billion, with PHP7.9 billion as part of for later release (FLR), has been allocated in the 2022 GAA for the provision of OCA.

However, considering the expected high number of eligible health workers, the DOH said it is constantly in coordination with the Department of Finance to ensure that the remaining PHP42 billion currently lodged as unprogrammed funds will be prioritized to ensure the implementation of the OCA until the state of national emergency has been lifted. (PR)

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