Government created the nursing exodus; Ona’s comment exposes government’s lack of plans for health workers (PR)

Press Release
May 12, 2011

The group Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) today criticized the remarks of health secretary Enrique Ona for discouraging students from study nursing and for blaming parents for the glut in the nursing profession.

Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary general said “conveniently reducing the problem of nursing employment as a matter of shifting academic preferences reveals how myopic the government sees the issue; it is a tactless commentary that exposes the lack of leadership and vision in terms of developing the country’s health human resources.”

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Secretary Ona told graduating students in Baguio City that Instead of contributing to the over 200,000 jobless nurses nationwide, parents and students should “try courses related to mathematics, engineering and science and technology which command high compensations in both the local and international scenes”.

But HEAD said that it is government’s relentless policy of peddling nurses abroad that created the monstrous problem of unemployment now.
“It is, in fact, government, in to keep up with its labor export policy, which practically transformed the nursing profession into an overnight industry to keep the fledgling economy afloat. Like the past Arroyo administration, the current Aquino administration continues to facilitate the steady supply of nurses for deployment abroad.”

The health group holds the Aquino leadership accountable for the current unemployment of around 200,000 nurses all over the country.

“The problem is not the choice of nursing as a profession. The problem is when the Aquino government still refuses to employ nurses even though they are badly needed by the public healthcare system. The problem is when the Aquino government refuses to provide a viable career and personal future for nurses by denying them their due compensation.”

HEAD estimates that the government needs to augment its current nursing personnel by an additional 60% in order achieve the recommended nurse to patient ratio. Currently, there only about 28,000 nurses employed in both public and private hospitals in the country, and an additional 40,000 more are needed.

The group also notes that despite the recent approved increase of P22 in ECOLA (emergency cost of living allowance), government nurses still do not benefit from the wage provisions of the Nursing Act of 2002 and are barely surviving from severely inadequate salaries.

“The problem of the nursing employment also reflects the Aquino government’s priorities in terms of health services let alone its care for healthcare providers,” Rivera added. “Its RN Heals (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement And Local Service) a mere slipshod one year temporary volunteer work without full compensation and benefits.”

“This is not pagbabago (change) but a mere rehash of what was already rotten before.”


Dr. Geneve Rivera
Secretary General
Health Alliance for Democracy

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