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12,000 nurses won’t lose their jobs, DOH assures

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By Charina Clarisse Echaluce

The Department of Health (DOH) today assured thousands of Filipino nurses that they will not be losing their jobs, contrary to a party-list’s claim that 12,000 nurses will lose their job this year.

Asked about the data revealed by Ang Nars Party-list that 12,000 nurses might lose their jobs this year due to lack of budget, DOH Director Ken Ronquillo maintained that claim is not true.

MB FILE | MANILA BULLETIN

MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

“Not true,” Ronquillo said.

“Can we ask Ang Nars Party-list the source of the 12,000 nurses? Kasi baka newly licensed nurses na nag-accumulate ‘yan. Hindi naman po taun-taon na may dagdag positions for nurses both in the government and private health sector,” he explained.

Yesterday Ang Nars disclosed that an estimated 12,000 nurses might lose their job this year because of lack of budget, while 5,000 already got unemployed in 2017.

“[An estimated] 12,000 of 24,000 nurses under the DOH [Department of Health] nurse deployment program will lose their jobs this year because of lack of budget. Last year, 5,000 nawalan ng trabaho (lost their job),” Ang Nars Party-list representative Leah Paquiz said.

Ronquillo, however, clarified that there was a decrease of only 1,379 nurses.

“I do not know the source of Ang Nars Party-list. But if the reference is on the DOH Deployment Program — we have a decrease of 1,379 from 2017. From 20,309 in 2017 to 18,930 in 2018. These nurses are categorized into Public Health Associates that do health data collection and analysis; Family Health Associates for mother and child health; and nurses doing general public health nursing,” he disclosed.

“The decrease in number is due to the increase in salaries following tranche 3 of the salary standardization law using the same budget allocated for the program. Meaning, there was no increase in budget so adjustments were made to appropriate increase in salaries,” he continued.

“Another reason for the decrease in number is for DOH to accommodate LGU requests for other professions needed like nutritionist-dieticians, medical technologists, pharmacists, midwives, dentists,” he further stated.

Nurses’ sentiments

Earlier, Ang Nars voiced out the concerns of nurses in a letter sent to President Duterte.

“Meron kaming sulat sa President. Gumawa kami ng sulat kay Sec. [Francisco] Duque [III] last week. And dinala namin sa Office of the President dahil naniniwala kami na meron s’yang pagbabago na magagawa (Half of nurses will lose their jobs. We wrote a letter addressed to the President. We wrote a letter addressed to Sec. Duque last week. And we brought it to the Office of the President because we believe that he can bring change),” Paquiz stated.

In the letter addressed to “Tatay Digong,” dated January 5, 2018, the nurses asked the President to end contractualization.

“We registered nurses and the human resource for health under Development Program of the Department of Health, believe that change is coming. As a means of eradicating poverty and contributing to economic growth, we fervently hold onto your development plan to stop endo [and] stop contractualization,” they wrote.

“Our current status is categorized as ‘without employer-employee relationship’ under various rhetoric such as job order, contract of service, or contractual workers. Our contract for DOH is for one year, subject to evaluation every six months based on the following health indicators accomplishment: Safe Motherhood Program, National Immunization Program, Nutrition and Integrated Health Control Program, Adolescent Health Program, Family Planning Program, National Tuberculosis Control Program, National HIV/AIDS/STI Prevention and Control, Rabies Prevention and Control Program, Health Emergency Preparedness Program, Lifestyle Related Diseases, Health Wellness Program, National Tobacco Control Program, National Voluntary Blood Services Program, Primary Eye Care Program, Local Health Systems Development, and Philippine Health Agenda Implementation,” they further stated.

Amid all the struggles, the nurses said their trust to the change that Duterte has promised remains.

“We are hopeless to secure permanent positions. We don’t know where to seek refuge anymore…. Naniniwala, sumusuporta, at kaisa n’yo po kami sa inyong adhikain na mapabuti ang buhay at kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino! Asahan n’yo po, Tatay Digong, na kami ay magiging malakas ninyong katuwang sa pagbuo ng isang matatag at malusog na bayan (We are hopeless to secure permanent positions. We don’t know where to seek refuge anymore…. We believe in you and we are one with your goal to improve the life and health of the Filipinos! We assure you, Tatay Digong, that we will be your strong ally toward building a strong and healthy nation),” they expressed.

Paquiz said they do not want protest; they just want plantilla position.

“Ang hiling namin ay gumawa ng plantilla position…. Wala pa sa plano ang mag-aklas (What we are asking is the creation of plantilla position…. We still don’t have a plan to protest),” she said.

Moreover, she stated that they are seeking help because they do not want the Filipino nurses to work abroad.

“Kaya natin ginawa ito ay para huwag ng umalis ang ating mga nurse. Sana ma-regular sila para magkaroon sila ng peace of mind. Hindi sila makatulog (We did this because we do not want our nurses to leave. I wish they would be regularized so they can have peace of mind. They cannot sleep),” she expressed.

Ronquillo, on the other hand, assured that the DOH is doing its best to help the nurses.

“Our HR Bureau is now studying our scholarship program to probably decrease funds and allocate to our deployment program so no one is shelved off. This is premised that CHED and academic institutions also provide scholarship grants while only the DOH deploy,” he disclosed.

The DOH official added that plantilla positions for nurses in DOH hospitals also increased.

“Plantilla positions for nurses in DOH hospitals also increased to as much as 50 percent depending on the category of the DOH hospital. As a result of the implementation of staffing standards in DOH hospital, the overall effect is more positions for nurses,” he said.

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