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Friday 28th October 2016

Nurse exodus

6th April 2006

The Philippines has provided nurses to the hospitals of the world's richest nations for years, but a recent escalation in the exodus of medical workers has left the local health-care system on the verge of collapse.

Over 100,000 nurses, including former doctors, have left the Philippines in the last decade and are now working overseas, studies show. They are attracted by higher salaries abroad and unsettled by political instability at home.
It may also be a result of the government's policy of encouraging Filipinos to work abroad so they can send back billions of dollars a year, which fuel local consumption, the main engine of the country's economic growth, say experts.

The secretary general of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Jossel Ebesate, says that In two to three years, the health-care system would collapse. He added that of the roughly 1,600 private hospitals in the country, only 700 were now operational due to the shortage of nurses and doctors.

The nurses who remain in the Philippines are overwhelmed by the number of patients they must take care of, says former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan. At some hospitals on the southern island of Mindanao, there is one nurse for 55 patients. The ideal ratio is one nurse to four patients, he said.

More worrying is the recent trend of doctors leaving the Philippines after enrolling in nursing schools so they can work as nurses overseas said Tan. He continued "80 percent of doctors have taken up nursing". While many developed countries impose high barriers for allowing foreign doctors to continue to practice, they are willing to accept nurses due to the shortage at home, which is expected to continue due to aging populations. Doctors from the Philippines can expect higher wages abroad, even if they work as nurses.

The government plans to draw up a law to stop doctors leaving said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

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