Jobs aplenty, few takers: DOH struggles to find doctors, nurses for COVID-19 fight

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2020 01:06 PM

MANILA — The government is ready to hire more health workers but the problem now is that there are almost no applicants, the Department of Health revealed on Monday. 

"Unfortunately talagang hirap na hirap kami. Madaming posisyon, may pera ang Bayanihan fund kaya lang walang takers. Wala masyadong nagkukuha ng slots na meron tayo,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(Unfortunately, it’s been difficult for us. There are a lot of positions and there is money from the Bayanihan fund but there are no takers. There are not enough people taking the slots that are available.)

Vergeire said this as reporters asked about the back-to-back protests of government health workers complaining of overwork and understaffing as the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and other areas continue to increase due to the gradual opening up of the economy.

She said they have sought to address their concerns, including the distribution of personal protective equipment even in private hospitals.

But the hiring of additional personnel has been a challenge.

Based on Sunday’s COVID-19 situationer report, 6,002 positions out of the 8,810 slots for emergency hiring in 336 health facilities have been filled up. Almost half are for DOH hospitals.

“Nung una marami talagang takers. Pero ngayon I think nae-exhaust natin especially here in Metro Manila. Kaya tumitingin pa tayo kung anong ways to increase or augment health workers, especially in hospitals,” Vergeire said.

(At the start there were a lot of takers. But now I think we’ve exhausted the ones available, especially here in Metro Manila. That is why we are looking at other ways to increase or augment health workers, especially in hospitals.)

She said they are partnering with universities and institutions to tap their graduates. 

Last month, DOH faced criticism for trying to assign doctors to the barrios to hospitals in Cebu. Doctors groups insisted that they are more needed in far-flung rural areas that do not have enough health personnel serving them.

Asked if the health workers might be scared because of the pandemic, Vergeire said she is not sure.

However, she said health workers have a commitment to serve.

“Sana sa panahon na ito, oo natatakot tayo pero magbigay trust tayo na aalagaan naman kayo. Pangalawa 'yun lang commitment na para makatulong sa bayan,” she said.

(At this time, we might be scared but we should trust that you will be taken care of. Secondly, the commitment to help the nation.)