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Shortage Of Nurses— A Big Challenge To Universal Health Care?

The Department of Health (DOH) admitted that one of the biggest and toughest issues that the department is about to face in implementing the Universal Health Act is the shortage of the number of nurses in the country.

DOH Secretary Eric Domingo said that the under-staffed hospitals are needed to be fixed first for the Universal Health Act to be executed effectively.

Nurses in the Philippines tend to find jobs overseas after they graduated for bigger salary. In Germany, nurses can earn more than P100,000 as a starting rate. They can earn P80,000 in Japan and P60,000 in Saudi Arabia. Their accommodation and food are also free at the most.

Domingo said that under the Universal Health Act, the newly-graduated nurses have to serve three years in the country before they can go abroad. In that way, there will be enough pool of nurses.

Meanwhile, a nurse who requested to conceal his identity said that the biggest reason why nurses go abroad is the inadequate salary they are getting in their own country. As for him, he was working here for 15 years and his salary is still at P30,000. New nurses get P11,000 and there are even those who are receiving below the minimum wage.

Aside from that, because of under-staffing, a nurse has to bear the workload of two people. Nurses are overworked yet underpaid in the country that’s why “Reggie” said he regrets staying in the country and not even trying to go abroad.

Nurses working in government hospitals receive Grade 15 salary or P25,000 while private hospitals give minimum wage for their salary. Nurses who are working in some hospitals as trainees receive nothing,. They even pay the hospital for their opportunity to gain work experiences.

The DOH needs 26,000 health care workers, 17,000 of which are nurses but unless the salary will not increase to at least P30,000 per month, the nurses will still choose to grab the opportunities abroad.

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