Villanueva: Shore up ranks of health frontliners as Delta variant looms in PH
With the full brunt of COVID-19’s Delta variant looming on the horizon and the virus spinning more dangerous mutations, Senator Joel Villanueva is calling on the government to step up its hiring of health personnel, beginning with the 5,008 nurses who hurdled the recent board exams.
“Kailangan na ng reinforcements ang ating mga frontlines. We’ve spent 16 months fighting this pandemic, and the unseen enemy has been mutating into more dangerous strains,” Villanueva said.“
Mukhang wala tayong timeout sa pandemyang ito, kaya dapat lamang na patuloy tayo maging alerto para hindi na sumunod sa nangyari sa mga bansang tinamaan ng Delta variant tulad ng India at Indonesia.”
He said the 5,008 passers of the nurses licensure examination held earlier this month can ease staffing shortages in public hospitals and other health facilities.
Another talent pool the government can draw from is the batch of 1,234 doctors who passed the licensure tests in May.
Villanueva said the government should provide funds to the Department of Health “so the latter can go on a hiring binge.”
And to boost the morale of frontliners, “we have to make sure they are paid what is due them on time and in full,” Villanueva added.
“Kailangan na ng reinforcements ang ating mga frontlines. We’ve spent 16 months fighting this pandemic, and the unseen enemy has been mutating into more dangerous strains.”
“Siguruhin po natin na kung sino man ang nagnanais maglingkod sa gobyerno bilang public health frontliners, ibigay po natin sa kanila ang nararapat sa kanilang mga sakripisyo,” the chair of the Senate labor committee said.
He said the staff complement of government health facilities should be “raised to war level.”
“Most are running on manpower best suited for ‘peacetime’ conditions, not during this pandemic. Kailangan na pong mag-level up, “ he said.
Even if government facilities have beds and equipment, “you need personnel to man or operate them,” he said. “Kahit naman bakuna, kailangan po ng tao para i-inject yon.”
As of December 2020, there were 30,396 nurses in public hospitals and 24,969 in primary health care facilities such as Rural Health Units in towns.
“This comes up to about 5 nurses per 10,000,” Villanueva said.
The DOH has a payroll budget of P61.14 billion this year, a figure that does not cover personnel in hospitals and health centers run by local governments.
This year, the DOH has a P16.7 billion budget for its health personnel deployment program, where it assigns doctors, nurses, midwives and other health workers to underserved localities.