Philippines urged to address exodus of nurses as NZ offers medical workers residency

Philippines urged to address exodus of nurses as NZ offers medical workers residency
Health workers from the government-run Philippine General Hospital hold placards as they ask the government to release their risk allowances amid rising Covid-19 coronavirus infections, in Manila on August 26, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — An organization of nurses called on the government to address the problem of migration of health workers following New Zealand's offer of residency to overseas nurses and midwives.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that the government is offering healthcare workers from abroad an immediate pathway to residency as the country addresses an acute shortfall of medical staff. 

In a statement Wednesday, the Filipino Nurses United said the offer of better job opportunities and higher pay of other countries have attracted massive migration of Filipino nurses. 

“With the increasing economic crisis of the Filipino families, the offer of residency in a country such as New Zealand will be truly enticing and definitely an additional push factor for nurses to leave their local nursing jobs,” FNU said. 

“Our country itself is in dire need of nursing and health services. Amidt the availability of nurses, our public health care system has not absorbed them so that it can respond to our people’s health needs,” it added. 

According to the organization, only 172,589 out of 617,898 Filipino nurses are employed locally. 

To address the mass exodus of nurses, FNU renewed its calls for an increase of nurses’ salary to P50,000 monthly, mass hiring of additional 52,000 nurses in public health and in hospitals, and regularization of contractual nurses. 

Last September, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed to improve the working conditions of nurses in the country and address pay disparity between nurses in government hospitals and those in private health facilities.

“As long as nurses’ welfare remain neglected and are abused as health workers in the healthcare system, with very low pay, suffering from chronic and severe understaffing that lead to over extended duty hours without commensurate pay and overtime pay, work and patient overload, more and more Filipino nurses are pushed to leave the country,” it said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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