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‘Majority of licensed health workers inactive’

Less than half of the 750,000 licensed health workers in the country are actively working in government and private hospitals here amid the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, according to recruitment and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani.

‘Majority of licensed health workers inactive’
DISINFECTION. The Ospital ng Tondo in Manila remains closed to new patients amid ongoing disinfection after 32 doctors and nurses fell ill while tending to COVID-19 patients. 
“Of the 750,000 health professionals, only 204,437 are active in the health sector, leaving 543,495 who are not practicing their professions, according to the data obtained from DOH (Department of Health) as of 2017,” Geslani said in a statement.

“The institution mentioned should carefully study the data that there are over 750,000 health professionals in the country  which includes (sic) dentists, med techs, pharmacists, physicians and midwives,” he said..

Over 500,000 nurses have passed the licensure exams since the year 2000-2019 but only  less than 200,000 are working as nurses in private and government hospitals, Geslani said. 

Geslani guessed there was no shortage of nurses or healthcare workers in the country, given that health workers receive low salary, thus forcing majority of them to work in other fields or work abroad.

Because there are enough healthcare workers in the country, Geslani  called for an in-depth review on the current ban on healthcare care workers that has affected thousands of new and ex-abroad nurses aside from other healthcare workers.

Lito Soriano, president of LBS Employment, has also asked the IATF, CHED, PRC, DOH, PSA, POEA and the  Philippine Nurses Association to undertake a serious study on the implications of the current ban on healthcare workers who have been banned on leaving the country especially under DOLE’s rules that no new processing of new contracts would be allowed after March 8,2020.

 This rule effectively stops the deployment of new hires in the healthcare industry especially ex-abroad nurses and new graduates of the nursing profession including physical therapists, med techs, and other allied healthcare professionals  to leave for countries which offer higher pay and benefits including permanent residency..

POEA data from the 19 years will show that only about 150,000 nurses have left for abroad with an annual average of 12,000 since the year 2000. 

Data will show that nurses deployment peaked during 2003-2008 but has subsided since then with the Middle East country of Saudi Arabia topping the list with annual deployment to that country averaging 8,000-10,000 nurses annually. 

Other Middle East countries, particularly UAE and Qatar, have also recognized the experience and skills of Filipino nurses and their English speaking abilities.

 Soriano believed the deployment of new hires will not affect the healthcare industry since there are still over 240,000 nurses who are not active  in the healthcare  industry.

Soriano added “overseas job opportunities for nurses has been the primary driver of inspiration for our high school graduate to take Nursing profession, the ON and OFF ban will send a wrong signal to our youth that in the coming years, they will avoid Nursing and this will impact the health care system of the country”

The reasons are very obvious: nurses have been underpaid for the past 15 years, some earning less than 10,000 pesos in private hospitals and 15,000 in government hospitals. Benefits are few and nurses are mostly under paid.

Recent moves of the government to raise the salaries of nurses to P 32,000 per month will not be realized until the new fiscal year of 2021 goes into effect, Soriano said.

Soriano called for an end of the deployment ban for new hires as this will only confuse overseas clients who depend on Filipino nurses who, he said, were hard-working and highly recognized for their skills.

Topics: COVID-19 , health workers , Emmanuel Geslani , Department of Health
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