By Wilnard Bacelonia
MANILA – There is no doubt that Filipino nurses will prefer to stay in the+ country if they will have a competitive salary, according to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri in a statement on Friday.
“They want to be with their families, and they want to help our people. But they need to make a decent living as well, and they need to be paid in wages and benefits that are commensurate to the work that they render. If they don’t get this, then they have no other choice but to leave,” he said.
Zubiri made the statement following the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to address the shortage of nurses due to migration.
He said small private hospitals pay nurses as low as PHP15,000 to PHP20,000 a month and are “likely overworked, looking after more than their fair share of patients as their collleagues leave for better pastures abroad.”
“Who can blame them for leaving? Overseas, they earn somewhere around PHP150,000 to PHP200,000 a month. Our salaries and benefits offer no competition,” Zubiri said.
“If we want nurses to stay in the country, we need to increase their salaries. That’s really the long and+ short of the diaspora problem that we’re having,” he added.
CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III cited various interventions that the Commission has been carrying out to deal with the problem.
De Vera said those who failed the nursing board examinations are being retooled, redirecting non-practicing nurses, conducting exchange proggrams with other countries, and adopting a nursing curriculum with exit credentials.
In a recent hearing of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Senator Pia Cayetano proposed that professionals, especially those in the medical field, who finished school through various government scholarship programs should be required to work in the country instead of working abroad.
Cayetano said while the government has the obligation to educate its people, it is unfair for the part of taxpayers to allow government scholars to immediately work abroad after finishing school.
“Education should be available to all. Pero yung maging doktor (But those who will become doctors) or even nurse, we spend and I intend to put in even more resources to ensure that they have really an even better education, better facilities, better equipment. So, kung aalis pala sila ( But if they are leaving), then we really need to discuss this,” Cayetano said.
“Some people are afraid to discuss it kasi baka daw sumama yung loob, magtampo, magalit. Eh, bakit ka gagastusan [ng gobyerno] kung hindi ka naman dito magtatrabaho, di ba (because they might feel bad, sulk or be angry. Then why should [the government] spend for you if you will not work here, right),” she added.
According to the data presented to the committee by the Department of Health (DOH), an estimated 10 percent or 13,467 qualified Filipino health workers migrate to other countries annually.
From 1990 to 2017, a total of 156,605 nurses were labeled as temporary migrants and 17,491 were considered as permanent migrants.
Currently, the DOH reported that the Philippines is dealing with a shortage of 350,000 nurses. (PNA)