Sept. 14, 2010
What’s wrong with brain drain? Nothing, says the new health secretary.
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino today expressed dismay and alarm over statements made by Health Secretary Enrique Ona on the mass exodus of Filipino doctors and nurses, saying that the government seeing nothing wrong with the migration of health workers
is a dangerous precedent on the country’s public health sector.
During the deliberation of the Department of Health budget at the House of Representatives yesterday, Palatino asked Ona what are the agency’s efforts to discourage doctors and nurses from leaving the country. The health secretary responded by saying that he sees no
problem with it and that he views it merely as a “transfer of technology.”
“It is very dangerous for the health secretary himself to say that brain drain is not a major, major problem in this country. Such views on health and migration lead us to think that the new administration’s policy on addressing the problems of the health sector seems to be a mere continuation of the labor export policy perpetuated during the past few administrations. This has grave implications on the country’s public health system, which is already on the death bed.” the youth
Palatino said a “government-sponsored brain drain” will only deprive Filipinos their right to accessible health services. “It seems as if the government is hell-bent on supplying the demands of other countries in terms of their health needs. This has contributed to the worsening state of health care delivery in rural areas due to the lack or non-availability of health professionals.”
The youth solon further said that encouraging doctors and nurses to
leave the country “might send a wrong signal to aspiring health workers, that their skills are being honed for export not for serving
He added, “Secretary Ona should diagnose the problem of the migration of health workers as a symptom of the deteriorating public health
system in this country. Nurses and doctors leave not because they want to be trained, but because they are lured by higher pay and greater opportunities abroad. Sadly Mr. Secretary, the grass is not always greener on the other side,” he said.
No shortage of nurses, says Ona
Palatino also questioned Ona’s statement that there is no shortage of
nurses in the country.
“Indeed, the Philippines is one of the leading producers of nurses in the world. But it is also one of the leading exporters of nurses. The issue of shortage should be analyzed in terms of the actual needs of the country. Perhaps the health secretary can look into the situation of government hospitals,” he said.
The international standard for the ideal ratio of nurses to patients in hospitals is 1:4. In a study by Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan the Philippines, a nurse caters to 40 to 80 and sometimes even 150 patients in an eight-hour shift, according to the Philippine Nurses Association.