Pinoy nurses find ally in British MP

By Ann Dominique Delos Santos,

Posted at Sep 03 2010 12:42 AM | Updated as of Sep 03 2010 08:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A senior member of the British Parliament has taken important steps to further improve the working condition of Filipino nurses in the country.

“Filipino nurses undervalue themselves because the government fails to provide them proper remuneration,” said David Amess.

During a roundtable discussion on Thursday organized by the VSO Bahaginan and the Philippine Nurses Association at a hotel in Makati City, Amess said Health Secretary Enrique Ona recognizes the need to immediately appoint a permanent nursing consultant at the Department of Health (DOH) to address issues and concerns of both public and private nurses.

Aside from the DOH, Amess also met with officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Amess is one of the 9 parliamentarians who participated in the VSO Parliamentarian Volunteering Scheme this year.

On Thursday, Amess wrapped up his 10-day visit to the Philippines. He said his brief stay proved to be meaningful and productive as he was able to witness the country’s poor health care system.
“Though I'm a middle-aged man, I found my immersion in the Philippines as a life-changing experience,” Amess said.

The province of Ifugao is one of those that will benefit from Amess’ visit. Amess personally experienced how the natives of Ifugao live simple lives.

Through his initiative, and with the help of the European Union, the people of the province will soon see the construction of the Ifugao General Hospital that will bring the needed health care services closer to the public.

Health workers' Magna Carta, bogus firms

Amess also noted that since the Philippines' Magna Carta of Public Health Workers was enacted in 1992, its full implementation has yet to be felt.

“It is ridiculous to have a law but not implementing it. Some of your politicians are complete waste of space," Amess said.

One of the aims of the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers is to promote and improve the social and economic well-being of health workers.

He also condemned the existing set-up where nurses are forced to pay an average fee of P3,000 monthly in exchange for training experience and certificate.

He likewise called for an end to the modus operandi of some companies victimizing Filipino nurses who want to work abroad.

Amess said that during his visit to the British Embassy in Manila, he discovered that there are British companies who mislead young nurses and dupe them into paying large amount of fees to obtain a student visa.

The parliamentarian vowed to take action against this as soon as he gets back to England. He also promised to continue communicating with local and national leaders to address the problem.

“I will do my best to investigate the British bogus companies, and I am asking the help of media to publicize those companies to finally end the misleading,” Amess said.

MP’s take on hostage crisis

Meanwhile, Amess tried to uplift the image of the Philippines that was tainted by the mishandling of the hostage crisis in Manila. The August 23 incident led to the death of 8 foreign tourists.

According to Amess, he did not encounter any security problem during his 10-day stay in the country.

“I feel very secure. I think it is unfair for the Philippines to be criticized. It was just an unfortunate event,” he said.

He personally selected the Philippines as his destination for volunteer work because he believes that Filipinos are among the most hardworking and finest nurses in the world.

VSO is the world’s leading independent international development charity that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries.

Now on its 3rd year, the program sends UK Parliamentarians to developing countries to help advise community organizations regarding advocacy and campaigning.