Marcos backs 'ladderized' program for health care workers amid 'brain drain'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2022 03:50 PM

The Medical City in Pasig City simulates the flow of COVID-19 vaccination and possible unique scenarios in a drill on February 18, 2021, as the hospital awaits the arrival of the vaccines for its health care workers and allied partners. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
The Medical City in Pasig City simulates the flow of COVID-19 vaccination and possible unique scenarios in a drill on February 18, 2021, as the hospital awaits the arrival of the vaccines for its health care workers and allied partners. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has proposed a "ladderized" program for health care workers in the country to address their "exodus," and also pushed for scholarships and higher pay in the sector.

During his meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council on Thursday, Marcos said it was important that these challenges be responded to so health professionals will no longer go abroad for better opportunities. 

"They are so good everybody wants them, and they are willing to pay for it, and we are not, or we're not able. So we have to come up with some strategies for that," said Marcos, as quoted in a Presidential News Desk press release. 

"I like the ladderized idea for the nurses because that's really becoming a problem – the brain drain that we are suffering," he added. 

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said this is what the University of the Philippines-Manila is offering, as well as in some local government units. 

For example, Vergeire said, midwives get to study for 2 years and upon completion, "they serve back to the community." Once they gain experience, these midwives study again for another 2 years in UP-Manila to become nurses for another 2 years. 

Paolo Maximo Borromeo, head of the advisory body for the health sector, said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers a 6-month nursing aide course that allows finishers to be deployed in hospitals. 

"What the hospitals do is they train them further, another 30 days to do IG, to do phlebotomy, or 'yung nasal – NGT. And it improves the ratio of beds that nurses [are] able to do in hospitals. Quick win like that is easy to do if you can encourage more nursing aides," Borromeo said.

Borromeo and the advisory also called for higher salaries and benefits for nurses, now that the nursing act is pending in Congress. 

The government, it suggested, could form a policy for equal pay for nurses in the private and government sector, as workers in private hospitals supposedly get a lower salary. 

Fifty-one percent of the 617,000 or 316,000 licensed nurses in the Philippines "have already migrated" while only 28 percent or about 172,000 are active in both the private and public sector, DOH data showed.

Twenty-one percent, meanwhile, "are working in other areas other than healthcare."

Marcos, during his inaugural address, vowed "changes" in the situation of Filipino nurses and additional transparency in the COVID-19 response.

Staff resignations hit some hospitals last year, as health workers complained of low pay and poor working conditions. 

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