Instead of preventing Filipino nurses to work abroad, the government should ensure better benefits for them and start appreciating them as a valuable asset not only to the medical care community but to the nation as a whole.
In reaction to Department of Labor’s mulling over restricting deployment of Filipino nurses overseas, the Registered Nurses Task Force of the Alliance of Filipino Workers (RN Task Force -AFW) said that the growing shortage of nurses in the Philippines cannot be addressed by denying the rights of nurses, particularly their right to abode and their freedom to choose where to work.
“If the government is so concerned about the brain drain of critical jobs like nurses, then it is about time that they take steps to value their work. Raising the minimum wages of our nurses, in the public and the private sectors, is the first step in the right direction,” said Gretchen Grace Bumanlag, a union officer of RN Task Force-AFW. Bumanlag is a practicing registered nurse at the Capitol Medical Center, which is part of the Mt. Grace Group of Hospitals.
According to Bumanlag, private and public hospitals should also learn to value more their nurses, by giving them better benefits and stop treating them as disposable individuals.
“Caring for patients is not only physically and mentally exhausting but also emotionally draining as well. If you add long dreadful working hours to that, then you are actually forcing nurses to leave the country,” Bumanlag said. “Indeed, nurses in the country are suffering from being overworked due to lack of nurses, but such a problem should not be solved at the expense of nurses,” she added.
The RN Task Force calls for a comprehensive response to this problem. It is calling on Labor Secretary Bello to convene a tripartite council meeting for the hospital industry to discuss this serious matter.
The RN Task Force-AFW believes that countries who take our nurses are ethically bound to compensate the country for its brain drain. “The current practice of developed countries of draining the developing countries like the Philippines of its pool of nurses is a new form of exploitation,” Bumanlag said. “There has to be some form of reparation for the Philippines coming from countries that benefit from our medical personnel,” Bumanlag said.
The RN Task Force-AFW believes that, in the long run, the country has to develop its own economy to really address the brain drain we are experiencing. The brain drain phenomenon is not only happening in the medical care industry but is affecting other industries as well.
“We will not be tired of reminding the government that if they really want labor migration to be just one of the options, we have to have a clear industrial policy that is aimed at realizing full employment,” She added.