AKSYON Demokratiko senatorial candidate Carl Balita on Wednesday urged the government to provide for the needs of the country’s health workers, especially nurses, if it intends to prevent them from leaving the country and seek greener pastures abroad.
“Unless government do something about the welfare of medical health frontliners as they continue to struggle to care for patients affected by the coronavirus pandemic, many who entered the profession will eventually choose to secure better-paying jobs abroad,” said Balita, himself a registered nurse and licensed midwife.
Balita issued the statement in reaction to news reports that around 5 to 10 percent of nurses in private hospitals resigned in the past two to three weeks, severely limiting the capacity of health institutions.
Dr. Jose Rene de Grano of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) has pointed out that with a more relaxed deployment of nurses to foreign countries, coupled with few nursing board passers to replace them, the country may experience a shortage of nurses and this could severely impact admissions in hospitals.
Health-care professionals have protested in recent months over unpaid benefits, including the Covid-19 special risk allowance (SRA).
Balita pointed out that dissatisfied frontline heath workers will eventually leave as there are better opportunities in other parts of the world. “The Filipino nurses are the best for the Filipinos and the choice of the world,” said Balita, who has been instrumental in the licensure of many nurses all over the country through his review center and books published as reviewers.
He noted a report that even before the pandemic, the world needed 6 million nurses—a 17-percent global shortage. This gap will reach 18 million by 2030 because of the pandemic. He proposes short-term and long-term solutions.
“They have so many big opportunities abroad, and there’s a lot of recruitment going on locally. We cannot match the salaries offered in the US, Europe, name it, our nurses especially. But, what will help keep them here? Our respect for their needs,” Balita explained.
Balita said health workers are also looking at the acronym M-A-T which stands for “Meal allowance, Accommodation allowance and Transportation allowance.” This, he said, should be given on top of the SRA, on time and without the hassle. “Can’t we be more generous to these front liners performing heroic jobs everyday?” Balita added. He noted that many nurses received the SRA, either late, or with questions as to how they were computed.
Most international hospitals hire Filipino nurses from larger hospitals with ISO certification as they tend to be more experienced and more equipped with the skills needed in these facilities.
Balita said if the present government will not act immediately, it may be too late already. “There should also be long-term solutions for this, even legislative, because there has to be concrete action to prevent further crisis, not only in nursing but in other professions as well,” added Balita. We cannot ignore the health- care professionals, especially those in the private sectors.
As an advocate for MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise), Balita said it is his desire to help solve the three crises brought about by the pandemic—crisis in health, crisis in the economy and crisis in education.