MANILA - Doctors and other medical health workers planning to work abroad are urged to remain in the country, at least for one year, to help frontliners fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nananawagan nga kami dahil pandemya na sana medyo manaig sa kanila yung nasyunalismo dahil sa ngayon parang lumalaban tayo sa giyera,” said Dr. Jonas Del Rosario, spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital.
While Del Rosario acknowledged that health workers also need to feed their families, he said they could work in PH instead.
“Iniisip din nila pamilya nila, sarili nila. Kailangang, kailangan po natin ng mga doktor. Sana po mag stay muna kayo kahit na at least kahit isang taon lang, we’re hoping matapos na ito. Pero sa ngayon po tingin ko ‘wag muna kayong umalis, kailangan kayo,” Del Rosario said in an interview on TeleRadyo.
The Department of Health (DOH) recently encouraged doctors to apply in hospitals, particularly government hospitals, to fill in the shortage.
PGH, Del Rosario said, is a big training institution offering residency and fellowship programs. However, the pandemic has prompted the postponement of the licensure examination, one of the requirements before one could join the programs.
Because it was postponed, they are still waiting for potential applicants, he said.
“Sa PGH naman po hindi naman kami short ng mga doctor dahil meron kaming separate na plantilla positions pero ang magiging tanong po sa training, kung marami po ba ang mag-apply,” he said.
Health workers also have apprehensions about working in hospitals during a pandemic.
“Tingin namin meron din pong contribution yung kanilang pangamba. Medyo tinitimbang nila pagpasok sa ospital ngayon dahil syempre yung iba natatakot pumasok dahil may COVID-19,” he said.
(Fear contributed to the shortage. Health workers are weighing in on working at hospitals because of COVID-19.)
According to DOH, there are more than 10,000 health workers infected with COVID-19. Of the total, more than 500 are active cases.
Del Rosario is among those who survived COVID-19, the disease that unfortunately claimed the lives of his parents.
Meanwhile, aside from doctors, Del Rosario said they are also expecting new nurses to apply as many of their nurses are thinking of applying for an early retirement.
“Pinaaga na nila yung kanilang retirement, ang iba naman hindi na bumalik. Parang ayaw na rin po nilang magtrabaho sa COVID-referral center,” said Del Rosario.
Del Rosario admitted that the salary of health workers also plays a factor.
“Malayo po ang difference ng suweldo sa ibang bansa kumpara sa atin. Sabi nga nila kung ikaw ay nag-uumpisa pa lamang, mahirap bumuhay ng pamilya kaya marami pong nagbabalak makaalis,” he said.
The government has implemented an emergency hiring program, with a 6-month contract for doctors.
“Sana taasan yung sahod. I think malaking bagay yung sweldo at sabi nga ng iba parang insulto yung ibang ino-offer ng government sa kanila kasi mababa po,” he said.
On Thursday, the Senate ratified the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, which will provide scholarships for Filipino students who wish to enroll in medical courses.
The Philippine government in September allowed more health workers to leave for work abroad despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health professionals with complete overseas employment documents as of Aug. 31, 2020 are already permitted to leave the country.
As of Thursday, the Philippines logged 363,888 confirmed COVID-19 infections. Of the total, 44,772 are active cases, 312,333 have recovered and 6,783 have died.