DOH: 15,000 doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers needed in COVID-19 battle in Philippines

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2020 10:44 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2020 11:10 PM

A health worker continues his duty inside the COVID-19 wing of Tondo Medical Center, which is running on a skeletal force due to exposure to COVID-19 positive patients, on April 17, 2020 where nurses have 12-hour shifts each day and are tested after a week after which they are tested and go straight to quarantine. Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday that it will need around 15,000 doctors, nurses, and other health workers to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

However, the government is still processing the hiring budget.

“Sa estima ng DOH, 15,000 health workers ang kinakailangan natin na tumulong sa COVID-19 response na kailangan i-emergency hire,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing.

(Based on DOH estimates, 15,000 health workers should be under emergency hire to help in the COVID-19. response.)

Vergeire said the current DOH budget is not enough to hire that many personnel but they have already requested the Department of Budget and Management for additional funding.

For now, the DBM has approved funding for 857 additional health workers.

“As of April 22, 2020 may pitong (7) health facilities ang nag-request for additional health workforce sa ilalim ng emergency hiring policy natin. Base sa pitong requests na ito, 701 slots ang sinisimulan nang iproseso para sa Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine General Hospital, Tala Hospital at RITM,” Vergeire said.

(As of April 22, 2020, there are 7 health facilities requesting additional health workforce under the emergency hiring policy. Based on these 7 requests, 701 slots are already being processed for the Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine General Hospital, Tala Hospital, and RITM.)

She said they are also waiting for the requirements of the other hospitals.

Vergeire said 639 nurses under the Nurse Deployment Program were deployed to different hospitals around the country. 

The DOH also realigned P7.9 million of its budget for the salaries and benefits of 22 healthcare workers at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Vergeire said there are already 160 health workers assigned to RITM.

For the last several days, the DOH has been calling for applications for the different hospitals in Metro Manila.

As of Thursday, there have been 6,981 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Of that number, 722 have recovered and 462 have died.