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Filipino nurses call for decent pay, more staff

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino nurses urgently need government action on fair wages, increased staffing and regularization of contract positions, an organization said on Sunday in commemoration of International Nurses Day.

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) stressed that Filipino nurses, despite their vital contributions to sustaining health systems, continue to face significant challenges, including low wages that fail to keep pace with the rising costs of living.

"Presently, the cliche of being overworked and underpaid health workers has never been a grim, sharp, painful reality to our nurses," FNU said in a statement.

"This situation pushes them further to massive migration, long characterized as diaspora, now with 'attractive offers' of bringing along their families and nursing education scholarships with assured employment," it added.

The nurses' organization criticized the government's inadequate support and lack of prioritization to public health service budget allocation, hampering nurses in carrying out their duties effectively and contributing to shortcomings in the healthcare system's ability to meet the needs of Filipinos.

"It is high time that concerned government authorities respond with concrete and decisive measures that will rescue nurses from the serious concerns such as the legislation of just, decent wage increase, mass hiring of qualified nurses, regularize contractual nurses to fill up and add more plantilla positions," FNU said.

It deemed the hiring of 300 unlicensed nurses and the revision of nursing education curriculum and masteral program as "irrational" solutions to the nursing issues of understaffing, low wages, and poor working conditions.

Last year, Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said that he was planning to create a national nursing advisory council to address the issues faced by Filipino nurses.

Over 100,000 nurses in the private sector in Metro Manila earn only P537 per day, with even lower wages for nurses in other areas, according to FNU.
Nurses in the government sector, although they have relatively higher pay, are burdened by work and patient overload.