PRC: Only 59.7% of Philippines” doctors practicing; nurses, only 53.55%

The Philippines has a supply of doctors, nurses, and other health workers but only a fraction of them are practicing their professions, Commissioner Erwin Enad of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) told a Senate committee on Monday.

Enad thus remarked at the hearing of a Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on the status of human resources for health (HRH) in the Philippines.

In his presentation, Enad showed that as of March 24, 2023, there are 951,105 registered nurses but only 53.55 percent or 509,297 are active.

There are also 182,300 registered midwives in the country but only 38.1 percent or 64,475 are practicing. For physicians, Enad said there are 159,283 registered individuals but 59.70% or 95,039 are active.

“Supply-wise, we have these health professionals. Records would show that not all of them are practicing their profession,” Enad said. “Our presentation reinforced the earlier observation of the CHED that we have the supply but the practicing professionals in that field kulang tayo [are lacking] because kaunti lang ang nag-active [only a few went active],” he added.

The Department of Health during the hearing showed that the number of practicing health professionals did not meet the ratio the World Health Organization set.

The standard is 44.5 HRHs (14.3 for physicians; 27.4 for nurses; and 2.8 for midwives) for every 10,000 population.

With the 111,572,254 population in the Philippines, the DOH said there was a need for 116,032 physicians and 125,890 nurses to meet the ratio. Meanwhile, there is a 28,580 surplus in midwives.

Senator Pia Cayetano, who presided over the hearing, pointed out in her opening statement that the government must ensure that healthcare workers must be given reasons to stay in the Philippines by providing them with competitive salaries.

” It is a reality that our human health resources, from our doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and many others, our scientists, are pretty much in demand all over the world. They are amazing at their jobs. They are well-trained. And they have very bright futures in other countries. And, what we want to ensure here in the discussion is that we are mindful of their right to explore greener pastures, but we would like the Philippines to be a pasture that they are also content and happy with. I think that is what our goal should be,” she said.

She pointed out that the Universal Health Care Act mandates the DOH and other stakeholders to ensure the formulation and implementation of a national health human resource master plan that will provide policy and strategies for the appropriate generation, recruitment, retraining, regulation, retention, and reassessment of health workforce based on population health needs, and to ensure continuity in the provision of health programs and services.

Apart from competitive salaries, Cayetano said UHC Act also seeks to ensure that all health professionals will be guaranteed permanent employment. –NB, GMA Integrated News

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