Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to throw away 400 million pesos

DoH seeks to buy 2M condoms from P400-M budget for family planning

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health has set aside P400 million for the purchase of natural and artificial means of family planning, including two million condoms to be distributed next year, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Wednesday.

Ona made the disclosure when he defended before the Senate finance committee the department's proposed budget of P32.6 billion for 2011.
So who says we even need the RH bill?

The DOH can always insert funding for contraceptives in the budget (with the blessings of the Chief Executive), have it passed in Congress, and there you go - nice and easy.

But 2 million condoms! My, that's a lot of non-biodegradable, non-recyclable rubber. Where on earth are the environmentalists? Why aren't they making a pip? Oh, they're probably counting the carbon footprints of babies that never were.

Anyway the 2 million condoms, Sec Ona said, would be given to "couples who will ask for it."

But just how many will ask for it? Let me try to whip-up my rusty elementary math.

The NCSB circa 2000 demographics say that there are about 14 million males in the 15-39 age bracket. Let's just use this conservative figure. Now, we don't suppose everyone of them will troop to the DOH to line up for free condoms, certainly only those in the low-income bracket.

Since our economic reports consistently say 1/3 of the Filipinos are living below poverty levels, so only 4.7 million males would be entitled to free condoms. I suppose only half of those are married (well, I'm assuming they would give condoms to only those who have legitimate spouses), then we have 2.4 million red-blooded males asking for condoms next year when it becomes available.

Hmm, I thought 2 million condoms is already a large figure but it appears it is not even enough to dole out ONE condom each to the target beneficiary. That is, unless the males limit their "reproductive health activity" to only 1 time a year and abstain the rest of the 364 days in the year. A healthy, full-blooded male would probably need 156 condoms in a year, assuming he is so romantically inclined 3 times a week. If the DOH were really serious they should have alloted 374.4 million condoms, which would provide just enough cover (pun intended). Now, that would cost about 1.5 Billion pesos. The bright side of it is that the DOH decided to waste only 8 Million pesos of taxpayer money to buy a measly 2 million condoms.

But wait...the same DOH budget proposal for family planning has earmarked a remaining 380 Million (out of 400 M). That's a lot of money. Secretary Ona said that the DOH allocated P280 million for pills and P100 million for injectibles.

Lets do the math again. The 15-39 age bracket accounts for 15,700,000 females. The target beneficiary would then be 5.233 million females. A packet of pills cost about 150 pesos per single packet. That would be quite enough for 23,000 beneficiaries. An injectible costs about 100 per shot, so the total money is probably good for 1M shots, that would be enough for 250,000 beneficiaries. In short the 380 Million would be good for adequately subsidizing contraceptives for 273,000 beneficiaries out of the 5.233 million target female population. They musn't give out inadequate doses, or they're just asking for trouble. So, close to 5 Million females in the target population of 5.233 million females would still have to rely on either abstinence or "bahala-na" (hit or miss) method. So we spend 388 million pesos on contraceptives and end up with more or less the status quo.

But wait again...Ona did not say how much would be spent for the purchase of cycle beads (a visual guide for Natural Family Planning) but said that the DoH allocated P280 million for pills, P100 million for injectibles, and P8 million for condoms.

So, 388 Million pesos for contraceptives, and (just maybe, not sure yet) the remaining 12 Million pesos for NFP visual guides and whatever. Nice sense of proportion, eh? So much so for the government saying it will equally promote both NFP and artificial methods. On the other hand I wonder how far 400 million pesos can go towards providing school scholarships. or farming subsidies. or livelihood micro-financing. or dengue medication. Oh well...

Those DOH guys are good at math.


aeisiel said...

We just don’t have a math problem also a mental one, P8M for something not viable and intrinsically immoral, tsk, tsk, tsk.

WillyJ said...

A math problem and a mental one as well. And to think these guys are tasked to take care of nationwide health. :shudder:

On a positive note, Senate appears poised to axe this budget item proposal. Apparently, Senators Enrile and Sotto knows the math. Sotto of course, learned his math at Letran :-)

aeisiel said...

Good old Senate President Enrile and Senator Sotto!
Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks?

ForzaMillan said...

Truly the proportion is not fair. What makes it even more disgusting is that SDM, while approved as another NFP method, is not as acceptable as there is a greater tendency to go to the fall-back position if the method fails: artificial contraception. On the other hand, NFP is much cheaper. Education in NFP will not entail much expense. Let government use the money for better and more moral health services.

WillyJ said...

You are right. In our ministry, we don't even teach SDM, which is basically glorified calendar method. Might give NFP a bad rap. We teach only BOM-NFP.