PH lacks 200k health workers due to exodus

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

NEW NURSES. Nursing graduates from Centro Escolar University (CEU) gather at the World Trade Center in Pasay City for their annual capping and pinning ceremony on Friday. The Department of Health said the country needs 106,000 nurses in both private and public hospitals. Norman Cruz

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

However, the workforce gap spans other health care professionals such as doctors, physical therapists, and dentists, with the total shortage at around 194,000, the agency said.

The breakdown is as follows, it said: nurses, 106,541; physicians, 67,345; pharmacists, 6,651; x-ray technicians, 5,502; medical technologists, 4,416; nutritionists and dietitians, 1,680; occupational therapists, 884; midwives, 785; physical therapists, 223; and dentists, 87.

DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the shortage would not be solved solely by implementing a deployment cap.

Policies on benefits and salaries will have a greater impact on bolstering the country’s health workforce, she said.

“We’re proposing to [amend] the Magna Carta bill to cover both private and public workers. The second one will be a bill on the standardization of salaries,” she said. “This means that the workers in the private sector will get the same salary as those in government service.”

Vergeire said there were reports of the migration of health care workers from the private to the public sector due to notable discrepancies in salaries.

The DOH is set 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 different issues facing health workers and has ordered the formulation of reforms.

Several Filipino health care workers have demanded for higher pay amid the country’s shortage of more than 100,000 nurses.

Hanz Santos, a medical technologist, had spent almost P100,000 for his per-departure requirements to work in New York, according to a report on GMA News Thursday.

Santos said there is a hospital in New York that will hire him with a salary of more than P300,000.

However, he said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has not yet issued his Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

Santos said this might be because of the deployment cap that the Philippines is implementing for health care workers who want to work abroad.

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

Santos said he did not know if this cap also applies to medical technologists.

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