Only 25 grabbed DOH job offer to health workers
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed to healthcare workers unable to work abroad to avail themselves of the emergency hiring program of the Department of Health (DOH) launched in April.
Duque made the appeal in an online forum on Friday, after his agency received a mere 25 applications from a potential pool of around a thousand medical front-liners seeking overseas employment.
In April, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration issued Governing Board Resolution No. 09-2020, which temporarily suspended the deployment of 14 categories of health workers because of the pandemic.
The ban was meant to ensure the country had enough health workers “to replace, substitute or reinforce existing workforce currently employed, deployed or utilized locally.”
But Duque said “only 25 signed up. Some did not want to. So I appeal to the sense of nationalism, the sense of patriotism of every healthcare worker,” said the embattled health chief, who is dealing with criticisms over his agency’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and treatment of front-liners, as well as the alleged misuse of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. funds.
“We are in a war,’’ he said. “Let us be united. Let us help each other because in the end who will take care, look after or treat our fellow Filipino but us.”
“Let us change our mindset in this pandemic and maybe let’s be selfless. It’s not going to be easy anytime soon. It’s going to be more difficult but we just have to live with it,” Duque said.
“But of course the sense of nation must be an overarching consideration in the hearts of every health-care worker,” he added.
As of Wednesday, the DOH was able to fill 7,849 out of 10,468 posts available under its emergency hiring program.
Under the emergency hiring program, nurses are to be paid P32,053 a month, while doctors can receive up to P75,359. On top of this, they are entitled to a daily hazard pay of P500, hospitalization benefits, free transportation, accommodation, and life insurance.
Asked if the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases may be scaring away applicants, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said “if you’re a health-care worker, we have a commitment to serve. During these times, yes, we may be scared, but trust that you will be taken care of. Second, it’s the commitment to help serve the country.”
Filipino Nurses United president Maristela Abenojar said when sought for comment about those remarks “[The government] shouldn’t question their [front-liners’] patriotism. Some of them worked for two years as volunteers in hospitals. That’s more than enough patriotism.”
“They are patriots. But we must understand that they have also families who rely on them, who they need to lift from poverty and hunger,” she added.
Abenojar also pointed out the experiences recounted by health workers already hired by the government, including delayed salaries and hazard pay, and substandard working conditions.
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