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Philippines faces shortage of nurses

ilocos norte saguip narsMANILA – The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, March 30, said it is studying the standardization of salaries of nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers to encourage them to stay in the Philippines.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire made the statement in response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to address the shortage of nurses due to migration, which hinders the delivery of effective healthcare in the country.

Vergeire said the DOH is also assessing the status of the proposed legislation on the Magna Carta for Public Health Care Workers and Philippine Nursing Act, both of which aim to provide more benefits and ensure the welfare of medical professionals.

During the meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Healthcare Sector group at Malacañan Palace Wednesday, the President also asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for concrete steps to keep Filipino nurses working in the country.

“We have to be clever about the healthcare manpower. Our nurses are the best, buong mundo na ang kalaban natin dito (and we are up against the rest of the world),” Marcos said, referring to nurses migrating to other countries where pay is higher.

“Lahat ng nakakausap kong President, Prime Minister, ang hinihingi (All the Presidents and Prime Ministers that I have talked to are asking for) more nurses from the Philippines,” he added.

In response to the President, CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III said it is already carrying out interventions to address the shortage, which include retooling board non-passers, adopting nursing curriculum with exit credentials, redirecting non-practicing nurses and conducting exchange programs with other countries.

“Under the nursing curriculum with exit credentials, students could have several options: exit at the end of Level I or II, obtain the certificate or diploma in Nursing, or choose to continue and finish the four-year nursing program to become a registered nurse,” De Vera reported to the PSAC Health Sector group.

De Vera said CHED is also working on a flexible short-term masteral program to address the lack of instructors in nursing and medical schools.

Among those who attended the PSAC meeting include Sabin Aboitiz, Strategic convenor president and CEO of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc.; Paolo Maximo Borromeo, Healthcare lead president and CEO of Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc; Fr. Nicanor Austriaco Jr., Healthcare Sector Member and Filipino-American molecular biologist; and Dr. Nicanor Montoya, Healthcare Sector Member and CEO of Medicard Philippines, Inc.

By Filane Mikee Cervantes, PNA