11 March 2020
BMP to DOH: Hire more nurses now or prepare body bags
Labor group pushes cutting health job mismatch to combat COVID-19
Labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) called on the Department of Health (DoH) to hire more nurses now amid the expected exponential increase of cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), adding that we have nursing graduates who are stuck in non-healthcare jobs.
“We call on Secretary Duque to propose emergency Congressional funding for personnel. This has to happen as early as this month. Pretty soon, the number of cases will overwhelm our fragile public health system, if we don’t mobilize enough people to attend to the sick,” said BMP Chairperson Leody de Guzman.
The labor leader cited a prediction by Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch that 40% to 70% of all people around the world will have contracted COVID-19 by the end of the year.
“Let’s say that 50% of all Filipinos will have COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 3.4% global death rate. This translates to around 1.8 million Filipinos dead, if our death rate is as bad as the global average,” De Guzman warned.
He added that WHO estimates 14% experienced severe disease and 5% were critically ill, translating to 7.7 million hospitalized and 2.7 million needing intensive care.
“How does DOH plan to attend to all of these? Given that the 2018 Labor Force Survey (LFS) only reports around 90,000 health professionals and 130,000 health associate professionals, there will be only 1 personnel for every 400-500 COVID-19 patients alone. We might as well prepare body bags,” De Guzman warned.
Attend Mismatch Now
De Guzman cited the 4th Graduate Tracer Study (GTS) from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) stating that while 21.6% of students surveyed took up nursing, only 52.8% of the nursing students were eventually matched to appropriate jobs.
Of those unmatched, 11% eventually worked as contact center information clerks, 8% went to retail and wholesale trade, and 9.7% either went on as general office clerks or cashier and ticket clerks.
“This is unacceptable. We badly need nurses to run our healthcare units, but our nursing graduates don’t end up in nursing jobs. Such a waste of tertiary education resources during a time of healthcare crisis!,” he said.
“The solution to the unemployment problem is in front of our faces the whole time. There are so many roles to be filled, and yet too many are unemployed. The state must transform these roles into decent paying public sector jobs, especially in critical services like healthcare,” De Guzman said.
The labor leader also appealed to young nurses aiming "to leave the country for greener pastures" to temporarily postpone their departure, arguing that their services are much needed here.
"It is tough times, we know, but I think it is better off for all of our families in the long run if they will stay here for now, and join the fight against COVID-19," De Guzman said.
The BMP leader appealed to the health department to fully implement the Supreme Court decision to peg government nurses’ to Salary Grade 15, following Section 32 of Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nurses Act.
“The Supreme Court can only interpret the law. The executive must propose an appropriate budget for nurses’ wage increase and Congress should approve it. The problem is that they keep on passing the buck to local government units, which does not have enough funds to pay their nurses,” De Guzman argued.
He said that the best way to encourage nurses to stay is by "paying them decent wages, commensurate to the risk they face everyday”.-30-
Contact person: Ka Leody de Guzman 0920-5200672