MANILA — The new secretary of the Department of Health on Thursday vowed to provide better working conditions for Filipino health-care workers.
"We need to pay them correctly and our nurses are the best in the world. How do I know that?... They're being asked by Presidents of other countries. They should be serving the Filipino people," Health Secretary Teodoro "Ted" Herbosa told ANC's "Headstart".
He said he would work to give nurses a competitive salary and encourage them to stay in the Philippines.
"The right for better life is embodied in our Constitution. If a nurse wants to go abroad to get a salary that I cannot give, I shouldn't stop that person because what I should look at is why I'm not able to pay the same amount so that they can be here in their own country, in their own family, enjoy the beautiful islands of the Philippines. So I will search for the solution of what will make them stay," Herbosa said.
The new DOH chief earlier vowed to stop the exodus of the country's medical workers.
He added he would ensure health-care workers would receive their benefits, lauding them for sacrifices especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interview, Herbosa disclosed he also plans to open up thousands of unfilled positions for nurses at the DOH for those who have yet to get their licenses.
He said there are 4,500 vacancies for nurses at DOH alone.
"We have several nurses that don't pass the board examinations and doesn't have a license. In government, you can't work without a license but I'm willing to take them if they have a diploma," he said.
Herbosa took his oath as DOH chief Tuesday.
He served as a DOH undersecretary from 2010 to 2015 and was the regional director of the department's National Capital Region office. He was also a special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic.
Prior to his appointment, Herbosa was also a professor at the College of Medicine in the University of the Philippines Manila, and served as UP System's executive vice president from 2017 to 2021.
Herbosa's appointment as health secretary came after almost a year that the post had been vacant since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency.