More health workers to resign if gov’t fails to address their concerns – group
MANILA, Philippines — More nurses and doctors might resign out of fear of acquiring the novel coronavirus disease if the government would continue to ignore health workers’ concerns, a group warned Tuesday.
The Alliance of Healthcare Workers (AHW) said reports that nurses in the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) have resigned out of fear from the COVID-19 pandemic might be replicated because health authorities allegedly fail to address the still-rising number of COVID-19-infected healthcare workers.
The latest numbers from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that there are 2,669 health workers found positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the potentially deadly respiratory ailment COVID-19. Of the count, 32 have already died so far while 1,438 have recovered.
“We fear that more fellow health workers will be resigning, not only from SPMC but to various hospitals across the country since they do not yet feel concrete and comprehensive measures of containment from the deadly virus in the country which will jeopardize their health and lives,” AHW president Robert Mendoza said in a statement.
“Aside from those resigning, many from our fellow health workers felt frustrated and demoralized. We have witnessed the incompetence and neglect of DOH and Duterte administration in dealing with the pandemic which has worsened the already deplorable health care workers’ conditions and public health care situation,” he added.
AHW also noted that they cannot be satisfied by the pronouncements of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who said in May that death toll among health workers have stopped as the government ramped up distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to hospitals.
According to Mendoza, the government also has to resolve the surging number of infected health workers since they directly interact with COVID-19 patients. Previously, AHW has warned that neglect of their demands may lead to the collapse of the country’s entire health system.
INQUIRER.net has contacted DOH officials to get their reaction on AHW’s claims, but none have replied as of posting time.
“Why (is) Secretary Galvez concerned only with the number of deaths and not see the complete picture of all cases, including the increasing number of infected health workers?” Mendoza asked.
“The health workers’ conditions are neglected. There is no implementation of free mandatory testing to all health workers at least every two weeks, inadequate PPE, public hospitals are understaffed and health workers still working 12 hours a day, low wages, and difficult transportation are among other problems,” he added.
While infection rates among health workers in the Philippines have slowed down – 2,669 out of the country’s 18,997 cases or 14 percent compared to April and May’s 18 percent – the Philippine still has one of the highest rates in the Western Pacific region.
The World Health Organization last April sounded the alarm on this issue, especially as the rest of the countries in the region – including China, where the disease originated – only registered a two percent infection rate among health workers.
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