Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

DoH wants a cap to nurse deployment

Oct 1, 2022, 12:31 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Writer/Columnist

With Covid 19 still very much around, the Department of Health is making sure that there would be enough nurses and healthcare workers when a possible surge occurs, as indicated by rising number of cases and the apparent apathy of people to get boosters because of their false optimism of being adequately protected from the first two doses of the anti- COVID vaccines.

The DoH is proposing a cap in the deployment of nurses as the country needs 106,000 of them here.

But who could resist being sent abroad, when the peso is losing its value so fast and the purchasing power has been eroded by inflation (the continuous rise in food and non-food items and cost of utilities), they seem to have no choice but to bite the bullet.

Imagine the dollar is now nearing P60 and could even go higher at P65 if the forecast of Congressman Joey Salceda materializes. Every dollar sent to the families of overseas workers here is immense and can buy them so much this Christmas season.

Due to the "migration" of Filipino health workers abroad to seek better opportunities, the Philippines has incurred a shortage of around 106,000 nurses, said Department of Health (DOH) OIC Maria Rosario Vergeire in a recent briefing.

The DoH wants to retain the annual deployment cap of 7,000 for newly- hired medical professionals abroad.

"We have a shortage or a gap of around 106,000 para mapunuan natin yung mga facilities natin all over the county, both for public and private (in order for us to fill our facilities all over the country, both public and private," said Vergeire.

“We need your help so that the operations in the facilities in our country can continue, she said adding that the DOH has over 2,000 unfilled plantilla positions, including 624 for nurses, 1,332 for midwives, and 63 for dentists.

The DOH OIC stressed that the annual deployment ceiling for health workers overseas should continue to be low, as she is set to meet with the Department of Migrant Workers and Department of Labor and Employment to discuss offering incentives to health professionals who will stay in the country.

If our production of healthcare worker professionals is inadequate, our deployment cap should continue to be low, she stressed.

However, the nurses' group Filipino Nurses United said that health workers have continually lobbied the government over the issues that are forcing them to go abroad, such as inadequate salaries, benefits, and support.

Why are so many nurses leaving the country, that’s what they always ask. But in our case, many nurses are only getting a salary of P500 a day. Compare it to the usual offers we get abroad of between P200,000 up to P300,000 monthly.

Andamo noted that while DOH’s standard nurse-to-patient ratio is 1:12, nurses in the Philippines attend to between 20 to 50 patients. Aside from the salary is our work conditions, the nurse work conditions. That’s what we’ve been telling the government all this time, that nurses are having a hard time because of the heightened risks and responsibility, as well as too much workload.

Andamo maintained that not all nurses want to work abroad, but the rising cost of living forces many to seek greener pastures and take a job outside the country. Added to our frustration are the benefits we should’ve been receiving like COVID benefits, with many nurses asking us for help to tell DOH of their problems.

President Marcos, coming from his visit to Singapore in early September, said that the city-state had been impressed by the work of Filipino healthcare workers during the pandemic and would like to source from us.

He also signed a bilateral agreement that will pave the way for the continued deployment of Filipino health workers to Singapore.


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