Aquino should clean up DOH
Rina Jimenez-David’s Dec. 3 column so aptly described “the mess at DOH.” Include the “mess” caused by the Department of Health’s failure to adequately provide basic healthcare services at the barangay level. There is an upsurge of cancer of all types, HIV, teenage pregnancies, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, behavioral problems, etc., while immunization and reproductive programs are palpably lacking. The poor and marginalized are left to make do with herbal treatments and traditional healers; and bear with overcrowded hospitals, if ever they could afford to go to one. All these point to the very fundamental need for local health coverage and direct basic health services. Primary level care is highly cost-effective than tertiary-level care!
The next “mess” that could probably occur is when the DOH Rationalization Plan takes effect. This plan will eliminate nurse positions when their current holders resign or retire. I do not know of any other health department or ministry in the world that has no chief nurse. At present, the highest-ranking nurses at the DOH are holding merely supervisory positions.
The history of nursing in the Philippines shows that nurses played a crucial role at the DOH in those years when a chief nurse and nurse managers formed part of planning and management committees or sections. For many years, nurses from several Asean countries studied and trained in the Philippines. But today, those countries’ nurse education and training programs are far superior in many ways to what we now have in our country. For several years, World Health Organization hired Filipino nurse educators to help in the development of nursing programs in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh. I wonder how our nurses would “compete” with their Asean counterparts when the Asean integration kicks in. Even as Filipino nurses abroad are performing with excellence and are highly successful, even occupying powerful positions in their host countries’ healthcare industry, their counterparts here at home receive hardly decent pay despite their hard work and selfless dedication to service.
Allow me to reiterate the last line of Rina David’s column for President Aquino’s ear: “It’s time P-Noy stepped into the mess.” And may I add, there is need to have a national task force to review the present healthcare system. May the cleaning-up of this “mess” be one of your legacies, Mr. President.
member, Nurses’ Initiatives for Change,
147 Panay Avenue, Quezon City
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