PHAPI concerned with 'exodus' of health workers, urges gov't to limit deployment abroad

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — A group of private hospitals is calling on the government to limit the deployment of healthcare workers abroad amid manpower shortages in medical and health facilities.

Jose de Grano, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI), said they were concerned about the "exodus" of health workers, which might eventually lead to the collapse of the country's healthcare system.

"From the private hospitals, our estimate is more than 40% of our nurses went out," he told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday. "Now, not only nurses. We also lack medical technologists, we lack respiratory technologists, we lack pharmacists, radiologists, and personnel who are part of the hospitals."

"Now, we are seeing that the government is trying to promote at parang binebenta pa nila ang ating [and it even feels like they are selling our] health workers abroad," De Grano added.

De Grano shared that in Cagayan Valley, some hospitals are in danger of shutting down if they cannot maintain a sufficient number of hospital staff.

He said that unlike public hospitals that get regular funding from taxpayers, private hospitals may eventually have to resort to increasing hospitalization costs in order to increase the compensation of their health workers.

"But for private hospitals, if you want to keep at par with government salaries then we have to increase the cost of hospitalization of our patients," De Grano said.

However, he added that even increasing a worker's monthly wage to ₱50,000 will not stop them from going abroad to explore greener pastures.

"A lot of new nurses now are very young, they want to improve themselves. We cannot stop them," he said.

De Grano said the most that the government can do is to limit the deployment of healthcare workers abroad.

"The most that the government will have to do is probably limit first," he said. "And then see whether we are producing enough health workers before we let them out. Otherwise, that will cause the collapse of our healthcare system."

The government has set a 7,500 cap on the number of healthcare workers deployed overseas every year. However, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said the figure has yet to be reached, with only over 2,000 deployed abroad from January to May this year.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Thursday he plans to increase the number of Filipino nurses to be deployed abroad as his administration tries to resolve issues faced by the profession in the country.

READ: Marcos to raise deployment cap of nurses abroad