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Stop mass migration of nurses – lawmaker

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Stop mass migration of nurses â lawmaker
Rep. Alfred Vargas, chairman of the House committee on social services, filed Resolution 2241 expressing concern over reports that health care workers have been going abroad “due to the supposedly challenging working conditions” in the country.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government should immediately take the necessary steps to prevent the mass migration of nurses due to the high COVID-19 cases in public and private hospitals, according to a congressman.

Rep. Alfred Vargas, chairman of the House committee on social services, filed Resolution 2241 expressing concern over reports that health care workers (HCWs) have been going abroad “due to the supposedly challenging working conditions” in the country.

“Health care workers have been at the vanguard of protecting the health and welfare of the general public, as they risk their lives to serve and provide care, especially for COVID-19 infected patients,” Vargas stated in his resolution.

He urged the Department of Health and other government agencies to take immediate steps to address the alarming number of nurses and other health care workers (HCWs) leaving the country in the midst of the pandemic.

“It is the duty of the government to ensure that the heroism and dedication of our HCWs are duly recognized and justly compensated,” he said.

Around 3,000 to 8,000 nurses leave the country each year on permanent visas, according to government data, greatly affecting the supply of skilled health workers in the country.

The Philippines is considered the world’s largest supplier of nurses, with Filipino nationals making up the single largest group of foreign-born nurses serving in 37 countries that comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Vargas also stressed the urgency of addressing the concerns of HCWs after the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines warned of a shortage in the number of nurses in the coming months.

The group said nurses are leaving the country for higher-paying jobs abroad, and private hospitals are unable to pay them the equivalent salary to make them stay.

“I am appealing to the DOH to address the concerns and issues raised by our health workers. We need to take immediate action otherwise our hospitals and our entire health care system will have a hard time addressing not only COVID-19 cases but patients needing regular medical care,” he said.

Vargas noted that Filipino nurses “represent the largest category of health workers migrating to other countries, followed by midwives and doctors.”

“Nursing organizations estimate that the country has 200,000 to 250,000 nurses who are not working in their profession, many of whom are waiting for job opportunities abroad with the same COVID-19 infection risks but under better working conditions and substantially higher remuneration,” he added.

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