Govt urged to address plight of health workers, build more clinics

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2022 02:26 PM

 Health workers hold a lunch break protest and noise barrage at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa on August 31, 2021 criticizing the Department of Health and the Duterte administration for the non-release of COVID-19 benefits. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Health workers hold a lunch break protest and noise barrage at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa on August 31, 2021 criticizing the Department of Health and the Duterte administration for the non-release of COVID-19 benefits. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File


MANILA - The government should focus on building more health centers and enforcing long-term hiring of health workers, a faculty member of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine said Tuesday.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address lauded the role of specialty centers in government's pandemic response. He said he would create a vaccine and virology institute, and a center for disease control and prevention. He also emphasized the need for more rural health units (RHUs).

The President, however, should address health workers' immediate concerns and build local clinics, according to Dr. Gene Nisperos.

"Kung gusto talaga niya ang access sa serbisyong pangkalusugan, hindi po automatic ospital ang mukha ng serbisyong pangkalusugan sa Pilipinas. Mas mahalaga po yung mga health centers, palakasin po siya, RHUs, barangay health centers. 'Yun po talaga ang susi doon," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(If he wants to make healthcare service more accessible, hospitals are not the face of healthcare service in the Philippines. Health centers, RHUs are more important.)

"Kahit po may bagong facilities, again ang problema natin ay may sapat na tao diyan. Yung kalagayan ng health workers, yung sapat na plantilla na idadagdag."

(Even if there are new facilities, our problem is if there would be enough manpower. The President should address the situation of health workers, if there will be enough plantilla positions.)

Majority of health workers are "deployed" to various areas of the country, Nisperos said.

"Mismong health professionals ay kulang na kulang po tayo at all levels of healthcare system. We should have a more long-term hiring progam. Imbis na deployment, employment po," he said.

(We lack health professionals in all levels of the healthcare system.)

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The Department of Health, in a statement, said it would follow Marcos' orders while "improving access to primary and specialty healthcare."

The agency said it "commits to close coordination and deployment of necessary resources to keep our healthcare systems ready to respond to both COVID and non-COVID cases."

The hospital admission rate nationwide remains to be at low risk, with severe and critical cases comprising 8.69 percent of total admissions as of Tuesday, the DOH said.