More benefits eyed to address 190K shortage in health workers

By Darryl John Esguerra

May 22, 2024, 4:57 pm

<p><em>(File photo courtesy of Cebu City PIO)</em></p>

(File photo courtesy of Cebu City PIO)

MANILA – The government is looking to provide insurance, housing and other benefits for healthcare workers to encourage them to stay in the country and help address the shortage among them which is currently at around 190,000.

In a Palace press briefing Wednesday, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said he has provided updates to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., including the 190,000 health workers needed to “fill in” the gaps in the country’s health care system.

To produce more health workers, he said, there are now 20 state universities and colleges (SUCs) with medical schools, a major improvement from the previous eight SUCs in the previous administration.

“We are also increasing our output of skills through TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority),” Herbosa said.

The Department of Health (DOH), according to the Health chief, is working with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to help medical workers secure health insurance.

“So may subsidy na ibibigay, maliit lang pero (A subsidy will be provided though not that big but) it will allow them to get health insurance for themselves and even their family. So may PhilHealth na sila, (they have PhilHealth and) they can get a health insurance,” he said.

The DOH is also in touch with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the Pag-IBIG Fund for the possible provision of housing benefits for health workers.

These, Herbosa said, are among the steps being taken by the government to “stave off” health workers’ migration.

“I’m asking the nurses to choose the Philippines,” he said.

Despite this, Herbosa said the DOH will not recommend the imposition of a deployment cap to deter Filipino health workers from working abroad.

“Since our nurses are in demand, that means we’re producing good nurses – what does that mean? We also get good nurses when you get sick in the hospital because they’re export quality – so, that means to me I’ll just produce more nurses,” he said. (PNA)