DOH head’s ‘advice’ to students irresponsible and insensitive, says Migrante

May 12, 2011

MANILA — Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and families Migrante International was incensed by Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Enrique Ona’s latest statement discouraging incoming students from taking up nursing because of the “decline in the demand for Filipino nurses abroad”.

Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, however said that Ona’s recommendation was ‘ill-advised, irresponsible and insensitive to the plight of the domestic health care system’.

Instead, Ona advised students who want to pursue a career in the medical field to take up highly-specialized courses in medical research and medical technology, or science and environment-related courses, “while waiting for the demand (for nursing) to grow” because they are in “very high demand” abroad.

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Studies show that demand for Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom and United States have suffered a steady decline since the global financial crisis struck back in 2006.

“Why discourage students from taking up nursing when we barely have enough nurses here? The DOH says that the number of graduating nurses has been ‘disproportionately high’ but why can’t the government provide domestic job opportunities for nurses to reach or at least narrow the gap in the ideal nurse-patient ratio?” said Martinez.

The ideal nurse to patient ratio is 1:4, while the ratio in government hospitals has increased from 1:50 to 1:100 in 2005.

“Unfortunately, Filipino nurses, caregivers and health practitioners are not regarded by the Philippine government as nation-builders and partners in addressing the crisis of the country’s health care system. They are treated as commodities that can be bartered for cheap labor under the government’s labor export policy. This is why we are so heavily biased in favor of the demands of the global market, this is a clear betrayal of national interest,” he said. #

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