PH short of 200,000 health workers due to exodus

The Philippines needs to provide better benefits and salaries to fill a shortage of nearly 200,000 health workers, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.

NEW NURSES. Centro Escolar University (CEU) nursing graduates gather at the World Trade Center in Pasay City for their annual cap and pinning ceremony Friday. The Health Ministry said the country needed 106,000 nurses in private and public hospitals. Norman Cruz

DOH data earlier showed the country was short by some 106,000 nurses.

However, the labor shortage extends to other healthcare professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists and dentists, with a total shortage of around 194,000, the agency said.

The breakdown is as follows, he says: nurses, 106,541; doctors, 67,345; pharmacists, 6,651; radiology technicians, 5,502; medical technologists, 4,416; nutritionists and dietitians, 1,680; occupational therapists, 884; midwives, 785; physiotherapists, 223; and dentists, 87.

DOH Deputy Secretary-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the shortage won’t be solved just by putting a deployment cap in place.
Policies on benefits and salaries will have a greater impact on strengthening the country’s health workforce, she said.

“We offer to [amend] the Magna Carta bill to cover both private and public workers. The second will be a wage normalization bill,” she said. “This means that workers in the private sector will receive the same salary as those in the civil service.”

Vergeire said there were reports of healthcare workers migrating from the private sector to the public sector due to noticeable gaps in wages.

The DOH is scheduled to meet with the Department of Migrant Workers next week to discuss possible mutual agreements with countries that employ Filipino health care workers.

The department said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is aware of the various issues facing health workers and has ordered the formulation of reforms.

Several Filipino healthcare workers have demanded a pay rise as the country lacks more than 100,000 nurses.

Hanz Santos, a medical technologist, had spent nearly 100,000 pesos on his departure needs to work in New York, according to a report from GMA News on Thursday.

Santos said there was a hospital in New York that would hire him with a salary of over 300,000 pesos.

However, he said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has yet to issue his Overseas Work Certificate (OEC).

Santos said this could be due to the deployment cap the Philippines applies to healthcare workers who wish to work overseas.

The POEA said earlier that 7,000 nurses are allowed to work overseas this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santos said he’s not sure if that cap also applies to medical technologists.

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