Continuing agony of Filipino nurses | Inquirer Opinion

Continuing agony of Filipino nurses

/ 05:02 AM November 24, 2022

It breaks my heart to learn that our nurses are continuously demonstrating against the government and hospital administrations allegedly due to “their unpaid COVID-19 benefits covering the periods July-December 2021, and July 2022 to the present.” It was reported that the Department of Health (DOH) has requested an additional P27 billion to pay over 2.1 million eligible public and private health care workers (HCWs).

I continue to wonder how come to date these issues (increase in wages and release of COVID-19 benefits to the nurses) have been lingering for the longest time and have not been fully addressed.

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In fact, I am surprised that Republic Act No. 7305, or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, does not cover private HCWs. Hopefully, House Bill No. 6132, or the proposed Magna Carta of Private Health Workers, will become law soon.

I suppose that between the government and the hospital administrations, the government has the ultimate responsibility for the well-being of our nurses.

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In particular, RA 9173, or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, was enacted “[declaring] the policy of the State to assume responsibility for the protection and improvement of the nursing profession by instituting measures that will result in relevant nursing education, humane working conditions, better career prospects and a dignified existence for our nurses.”

The said law hereby created the Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing composed of a chair and six members as appointed by the president of the Philippines. In this regard, let us enjoin its incumbent chair, Elsie A. Tee, to buckle down to work by spearheading the resolution of these long-standing valid issues (increase in wages and release of COVID-19 benefits) affecting our Filipino nurses once and for all!

If these real issues remain unresolved, then we can aptly say that “when the heroes don’t feel cared for,” the migration and resignation of Philippine nurses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic will ensue.

Finally, the government should realize that Filipino nurses can only do “heroic sacrifices” for the country to the extent that they are taken care of by the government.

Emiliano M. Manahan Jr.,

advocate and author

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TAGS: COVID-19, Filipino nurses
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