NURSES SHOULD BE PAID FAIRLY, SAYS GORDON
Senator Richard J. Gordon stressed on Saturday that Filipino nurses should be compensated fairly and that the government should have a clear policy that will be beneficial to them.
Gracing the 45th Annual Convention and Scientific Meeting of the Operation Room Nurses Association of the Philippines, Inc. (ORNAP) at the Manila Hotel, Gordon stated his plan of proposing a bill focusing on the welfare of Filipino nurses, which includes a higher and just remuneration for them as he emphasized the significance of their role on the primary health care system of the country.
"The nurses are so important to public health. They are at the forefront. Why are we making them second class citizens?" he said.
From 2012-2018, there are 148,623 registered nurses in the Philippines. Under Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nurses Act of 2001, the minimum base pay of nurses working in the public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade 15 or P30,531 per month. However, an entry-level nurse only receives a salary of P8,000 to P13,500 on a monthly basis.
"The government promised them SG-15 pero hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin nakukuha. Mali iyan. Dapat once you pass the exam, it is the duty of the government to give you opportunities. I will lead you to lobby that in the Senate. The noisy wheel gets the oil. Nurses are precious," Gordon said.
Since the nurses do not get the right amount of salary as stated on R.A. 9173, they are forced to work abroad where they can earn more. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), since 2012, there are already 92,277 nurses who left the country. This makes the Philippines the highest importer of nurses worldwide.
Gordon said that the government should come up with a strategic and workable plan so that there is no need for nurses to leave the country and so that they could serve their fellowmen instead. Nevertheless, if the government wants to continue sending them overseas, there should be a policy or an agreement between the government and the nurses that states that those who will go abroad for employment should return to the country after five years and teach the new nurses.
Gordon also said that there should be a language and culture training for these nurses so that they could easily adjust to the country where they intend to work and so that they could take care of their patients properly.
"Dapat magturo tayo ng Nihonggo. The population of Japan is getting old. They will need nurses and you must learn also their culture," he said.
Aside from being overworked and underpaid, over 400,000 Filipino nurses are being exploited by many health care institutions, according to reports. They are also exposed to verbal and physical abuse, aside from being exposed to different diseases.
Gordon encouraged them to partner with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which is currently looking for nurses who are willing to be trained as ambulance nurses for six months. Likewise, the PRC needs additional medical respondents who can help them in their operations during emergencies.
Lastly, Gordon expressed gratitude to all Filipino nurses who greatly contribute to the national and global health care.
"I will always tell everyone this - make your presence felt positively at all time. When you see your patients, make sure you are confident because they know you will be the ones taking care of them. I came here to honor you all. You are our country's pride," Gordon said.