THE FILIPINO NURSES United demanded the Duterte regime to immediately carry out mass hiring and training of nurses instead of just asking them to volunteer amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The group demanded that nurses must be accorded with just wages and benefits with job security. They also called for the regularization of thousands of contractual workers in public and private hospitals.
There are only 90,308 locally employed nurses, majority of whom are based in Metro Manila. Only 31,000 of them work in public hospitals. Understaffing of nurses has long been an issue in the country, even prior the spread of Covid-19.
A report by the World Health Organization disclosed that there are 536,331 registered nurses in the Philippines as of 2020. Around 200,000 of them are unemployed. Hence, there is a large labor pool of professional health workers. In connection to this, the group asserted that the regime must not prohibit nurses and doctors to leave the country for work amid the pandemic as this violates their right to travel and work. They must be provided with support especially now that they have lost their incomes and might not be able to return to their respective hospitals abroad anymore. It added that the government must also raise the salary and benefits and ensure the job security of nurses and other health volunteers and frontliners in rural villages. In such areas, the highest amount of compensation received by volunteers is only P4,000 per month. Other volunteers, especially those in far-flung barrios, only receive P50 to P150 per month.