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DOH’s unfulfilled wish: Dangle ‘handsome’ pay for Pinoy nurses to stop their leaving

Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario S. Vergeire
Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario S. Vergeire

The Department of Health (DOH) is bent on incentivizing Filipino nurses to prevent them from leaving the country following reports that some European countries are actively recruiting Filipino nursing students by offering them attractive compensation packages.

“We have seen that out-migration of our health-care professionals because of these offers ng ibang bansa [of other countries],” said DOH Officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire in a media forum.

Vergeire was asked to comment on a statement issued by Vilma Garcia, De La Salle University Medical Center employees’ union president, claiming that the United Kingdom and Germany are offering “attractive packages.”

“Their offer is bigger because we all know, across the globe, different countries are experiencing gaps in the number of health-care workers (HCWs) . . . maybe because of resignation, because of the pandemic. And maybe because of out-migration [also],” Vergeire explained, speaking partly in Filipino.

Vergeire said the situation is not new and the government cannot prevent these health professionals seeking greener pastures.

“First, we cannot protect or prevent our health workers from leaving the country because that is their right also – find more productive and better-paying jobs,” she said.

The government, Vergeire said, has pitched a bill to Congress to standardize the salary of private and public HCWs, “so that there will be no distinction and it becomes competitive across the different cadres of our health-care workers,” she said.

Vergeire was apparently referring to House Bill No. 4599, or the Salary Increase for Nurses Act, seeking to set a minimum monthly salary of P50,000 for nurses in government and private hospitals. The bill was filed by House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of the ACT party list.

Castro, after filling the bill in September, said there is a shortage of nurses in the country, but added, “we simply cannot provide decent salaries and benefits to Filipino nurses to entice them to stay.”

The second measure they are studying further, Vergeire said, is to improve the benefits of HWCs, “and that would be the scholarships that we are working [on] right now so that we can also develop and try to reproduce these cadres that we will need in the future.”

“So [this is what we are doing] so that we can further incentivize and we can encourage our health-care workers to stay here in the country, and to serve the country,” Vergeire said. 

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