Philippines doesn't just lack nurses, it lacks nurse educators: Professional group

Nursing students attend physical classes inside a university in Manila, Philippines on February 23, 2022. (Photo by George Calvelo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Nursing students attend physical classes inside a university in Manila, Philippines on February 23, 2022. (Photo by George Calvelo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

While the health care worker (HCW) shortage in the Philippines has been well documented, a professional organization is pointing out that the country also lacks nursing educators.

The Philippine Star reported that Philippine Federation of Professional Associations (PFPA) president Dr. Benito Atienza said schools offering nursing courses could only accommodate a limited number of students due to a shortage of educators.

Speaking during the Laging Handa public briefing on Monday (October 3), Atienza noted that some nursing teachers are already going abroad, while many Filipino HCWs leave the country to work overseas because local hospitals cannot provide comparable compensation.

In this regard, some private hospitals can no longer accommodate patients due to manpower shortages, with K-12 programs also causing a backlog in the generation of nursing graduates.

"The salary difference between private and government institutions is big. In the government, it’s only contractual, six months to one year only. That needs to be resolved," he stressed.

Atienza noted that countries like the United States are in dire need of HCWs and looking to the Philippines, the world's largest exporter of nurses, to fill manpower requirements.

Last Friday, Department of Health (DOH) Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters that the Philippines has incurred a shortage of around 106,000 nurses, due to the "migration" of Filipino health workers abroad to seek better opportunities.

In this regard, the health department wants to retain the annual deployment cap of 7,000 for newly-hired medical professionals going abroad.

Separately, the Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW) said the government must ensure that the 2023 national budget includes funds that are specifically earmarked for HCWs.

"Our health workers deserve to have well-funded programs that provide them with the necessary resources to do their jobs in a safe, dignified and humane manner," said the AFW in a statement.

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