Saturday, February 13, 2016

NGOs seek local budget for RH, HIV services
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Leading non-government organizations in the country have asked local government units (LGUs) for the integration of reproductive health -- especially on family planning, adolescent health and HIV services -- in the annual local budget.

In achieving the global, national and sustainable development goals' aspiration to fulfill the promises of reproductive health implementation, LGUs must understand the importance of providing appropriate budget to ensure the delivery of services, according to Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of the Philippine NGO Council for Welfare and Development. “The health sector is already devolved in the Local Government Code of the Philippines, however, the basis of the local government units to fully implement reproductive health is the Reproductive Health Law, which was recently signed into law by President Benigno Aquino,” Divinagracia said Friday.

She explained that the integration of program and budgetary allocation in the annual provincial or municipal appropriation is the assurance that reproductive health services will be implemented or delivered.

There are other legal bases for implementation of reproductive health services, like the Local Budget Memorandum No. 70 of the Department of Budget and Management, which requires all LGUs to make sure that the budget for HIV/AIDS program is built in the annual appropriation or in all levels.

Although the Department of Health (DOH), she said, is also mandated to provide support to LGUs, specifically on family planning commodities or supplies, it is important that concerned LGUs should allocate certain budget for the procurement of commodities.

The provincial government of Albay has allocated budget for the procurement of sexually transmitted infection (STI) drugs, family planning commodities such as pills and condom, supplies and equipment for hospital lying in.

Aside from appropriated budget in the annual investment plan, Local AIDS Council, Population Management Division and Program Coordinators on Family Planning are operational.

Gayon-Albay, a non-government organization composed of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, is conducting a series of fora in the province to seek support from the local chief executives and local legislators to include RH programs in their political agenda.

DOH Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo, on the other hand, has urged the provincial government of Albay to assist all municipal and city government for the creation of their respective local AIDS councils and provide fund for its operation.

He said HIV cases are increasing in the Bicol Region and the LGUs must have a comprehensive local response to address the problem. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MDR/CBD/RSM