Investing in health system, medical facilities will give nurses reason to stay, bets say

Investing in health system, medical facilities will give nurses reason to stay, bets say
In this April 2020 photo, medical workers are seen screening patients for possible COVID-19 before admission at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — How are presidential candidates planning to keep underpaid and overworked nurses at home if elected the leader of the Philippines in the May polls? Their answers: increasing the salaries of healthcare workers and constructing medical facilities.

Registered nurses in the country receive meager compensation and benefits, and face lack of job security. Such reasons are pushing many of them to leave the nation, making the Philippines the largest exporter of nurses globally.

Candidates at the first nationally televised presidential debates at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and aired on CNN Philippines on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
Marvin John Uy for Philstar.com

Several aspirants who attended the CNN presidential debate Sunday shared their plans to keep nurses in the country. Here are their answers:

Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso

“We will invest. I think we should and we need to wake up that this pandemic is high time for us to invest in the health of our people,” Domagoso said, adding his administration will also invest in scientists.

The Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer also said new health facilities will need medical frontliners so nurses will no longer need to find jobs in Metro Manila and even abroad.

He is running alongside Willie Ong, a cardiologist with a large social media following.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson

Lacson mentioned the Supreme Court ruling increasing government nurses’ salaries. The Supreme Court ruled that their salary grade should be at 15, not 10 to 11.

He also said there is a need to review the wage of nurses working in the private sector.

Senator Manny Pacquiao

Should he be elected to the highest government post, Pacquiao said he will increase the salaries of medical workers such as nurses and medical technologists so “they will work here and be with their families.”

He also pitched to build tertiary hospitals in each city and province in the country.

Dr. Joey Montemayor

Montemayor, a cardiologist and lawyer, slammed the government for making it difficult for health workers to leave the country and seek work overseas.

“Tandaan niyo, di lang pangako lang, bigyan ng incentive, bigyan ng motivation, equipment pero those remain to be seen. Kailangan ng sincerity,” he said.

(Remember: promises are not enough. Giving incentive, motivation and equipment is not enough. Those remain to be seen. We need sincerity.)

Who will you appoint health secretary?

Presidential bets Vice President Leni Robredo and former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella were asked about their potential appointments to health secretary.

Both did not drop names, but they enumerated qualities.

Robredo’s said her health secretary will be an expert in the field, an excellent manager, and is respected by his or her peers.

“Definitely, the appointment will be not be political,” she said.

“Ako bilang presidente, in every crisis, ako mismo ang mangunguna. Nakita natin during the pandemic na kailangan natin ng isang pangulo na nagli-lead sa front,” she added.

(As a president, I will be at front. We saw that during the pandemic that we need a president who leads on the front.)

Abella said he is already in the process of choosing a secretary of health. He stressed that the health chief should have integrity, must be intelligent and has energy. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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