MANILA - Two lawmakers on Tuesday pushed for the passage of a law creating a "medical reserve corps" to ensure enough health workers during the coronavirus crisis and future medical emergencies.
The country needs to enlist a "back up" team to ensure there is no shortage of medical workers during a pandemic, House Committee on Health chair Angelina Tan told reporters in an online press briefing.
"May mass hiring ang Department of Health, but we believe it is not enough. Kung magtatagal ang pandemic na ito, magkakaron tayo ng shortage [ng health workers]," she said.
(The Department of Health has a mass hiring of health workers, but we believe it is not enough. If the pandemic continues, we will have a shortage of health workers.)
The government can tap doctors who are in the pharmaceutical industry or other health professionals who have stopped practicing, said Tan, who is a doctor by profession.
"Hindi siya volunteer ang status. We need to incentivize din... since binigay naman 'yung powers sa President na magbigay ng renumeration sa health workers," she said.
(They will not have the status of volunteers. We need to incentivize them since the power to provide renumeration for health workers has already been given to the President.)
Sen. Pia Cayetano said she plans to file a counterpart measure in the Senate to ensure that a "second layer" of health workers would always be on standby.
"We will base it on experts' advise and models from other countries," she said.
Former Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral earlier suggested the policy to lawmakers, saying those with medical backgrounds should "have to respond" to the government's call for help during health emergencies.
The Department of Health has appealed for help from volunteer doctors and nurses as health frontlines are either exhausted from tending to COVID-19 patients or have been infected by the disease.
The program was initally criticized after the DOH announced that volunteer doctors and nurses would only get a P500 daily allowance.