Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona today affirmed that the Department of Health (DOH) budget earmarked for family health consisting of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition (MNCHN) for the years 2008-2010 were released to the local government units (LGUs) to improve the health status of families. This statement is being issued in response to allegations of fund misuse.
In 2008, the DOH gave family health grants to LGUs in support of Reproductive Health-Family Planning totaling P150 million. Since 2009, the DOH has been giving family health grants to local government units to assist them in the delivery of core package of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition services, for improving the health status of mothers and children. The total family health grants for 2009 and 2010 were P167 million and P467 million, respectively.
Ona said that the release of the MNCHN funds for LGUs were dependent on their compliance of requirements stipulated by the DOH, such as fund utilization and liquidation reports. A significant cause of delay in the releases is the failure of LGUs to liquidate amounts from the past MNCHN grants and even from programs other than MNCHN. He also explained that many LGUs consider the grants as separate from their local family health budget, with its own work and financial plan. The allegations included claims that the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Quezon, Batangas, and the city of Lucena did not receive a single centavo of the said grant.
Ona explained the Ilocos Norte Provincial Health Office received P644,525.60 for 2008 and P602,588.00 for 2009, while the release of the 2010 grant of P2,470,379.00 is on hold pending the provincial government’s submission of its service level agreement to the DOH together with the Provincewide Investment Plan for Health Memorandum of Agreement. The LGUs belonging to Region IV-A (CALABARZON), such as Quezon, Batangas, and Lucena City, on the other hand, are required by their local auditors to submit liquidation reports before further approvals for fund releases are made for the year.
Ona also explained that a clear understanding of the grants by the LGUs and compliance to its requirements as soon as possible ensures the efficient release of MNCHN grants with an aim to augment the local government’s family health budget to improve the health service delivery system of the MNCHN program.
The Reproductive Health bill, pending in both Houses of Congress, seeks to, among others, strengthen existing MNCHN services.
“We are working with the LGUs to address the bottlenecks in fund utilization and reporting to fast track the release of much needed funds for improving the health of our mothers and children,” Ona concluded. -30- DOH