MindaNews / 15 October 2005
DAVAO CITY -- A global union of health workers is initiating this month a dialogue with key government officials and an international campaign on the adverse impact of “unabated” migration of nurses and other health professionals from poorer nations on the quality of health services worldwide.
The Public Services International (PSI) has teamed up with its domestic counterpart, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLink) for the dialogue and to raise awareness on the problems created by continuing migration of health professionals.
PSLink, in statement released today, said it will hold dialogues this month with officials of the Philippine Overseas and Employment Authority, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Department of Health.
PSLink said it expects a delegation of health workers affiliated with PSI from Sri Lanka, Fiji, United Kingdom, Netherlands, United States of America, Canada, Japan and the Philippines to join the dialogue with labor and foreign affairs officials at the POEA headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
Jillian Roque, PSLink national secretariat member coordinating the event, said that immediately after the dialogue, the delegates will hold a three-day “partnership meeting” at the Grand Men Seng Hotel here starting October 25 to discuss ways at raising public awareness on the problems of continuing migration of nurses and health workers.
Awareness campaign plans formulated during the workshop and meetings here “will be implemented nationally, regionally and internationally,” Roque said.She said the meeting also aims to develop possible bilateral cooperation between health workers from sending and receiving country.
Roque said PSI and PSLink jointly initiated the activity in response to recent warnings from the World Health Organization and the domestic Alliance of Health Workers on the troubling trend of outward migration of nurses and other health professionals from the country.
A recent study conducted by the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, the National Institutes of Health Philippines, University of the Philippines Manila and the Health Science Center noted an increasing trend of deployment of nurses abroad from about 5,747 in 1992 to about 13,536 persons in 2001.The number of nurses tapered off to around 8,968 persons in 2003 but the number of nursing graduates produced yearly during these years outnumbered the projected demand for nurses.
The study noted that at present there are a total of 332,205 nurses in the country but the demand here and abroad only reaches 193,223 nurses.
The study also noted that the migrating health workers from the country are predominantly female and are between the ages of 20 to 30 with specialized training on critical care in nursing, operating room, delivery room and emergency room, and with one to ten year working experiences.
The study noted a combination of factors has driven the nurses away. Among these are low salaries, lack or inadequacy of hazard payments, low coverage of insurance, overload and stressful working condition, slow promotion, limited opportunities for employment, decreasing government budget on health care and the declining peace and order condition in the country.
The study said positive working conditions like high income, benefits and compensation packages, opportunities for skills upgrading, advance medical technlogy and better peace conditions are enticing the nurses to move abroad.
But the study also noted that as a consequence of the draining number of health workers, the country is losing senior and competent health staff. Health care in the country has also been “compromised” due to inadequate staff and poor pool of skilled health workers.
Some hospitals have also closed shop because there are not enough applicants for required residency programs.
PSLink, in its statement said the negative implications of the health workers’ migration worsen the condition of health care in the country. The country is already reeling from problems of inadequate budget and unresolved issues on the “exploitative treatment” of Filipino migrant workers. #