Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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FIRING LINE: Wrong solution to nurses’ woes

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The glaring issue of underpaid nurses in the Philippines calls for a reality check. It is said that 40-50 percent of nurses have quit their low-paying jobs, especially in private hospitals.

And the Department of Health’s (DOH) latest maneuver to hire unlicensed nurses to fill gaps in public hospitals highlights a deeper problem: the government’s inability to create viable opportunities for nurses. The DOH’s proposed solution — granting temporary licenses to those who narrowly missed the exam mark — seems like a Band-Aid on a larger wound.

A recent survey by Capstone-Intel Corporation accentuates the urgency. Its August 1-10 poll showed that 83 percent of Filipinos agree that unlicensed nurses must be allowed to serve in healthcare facilities if supervised by professionals. Sixty-nine percent of those polled believe they would do quality work, and another 83 percent think they would have a better chance of passing the board exam if they gained the experience at work.

Yet, the numbers only echo what’s already evident: the profession is undervalued, prompting licensed nurses to seek greener pastures abroad. The government targets hiring 4,500 unlicensed nurses through the DOH, which, on the upside, is good in terms of employment. But it remains an ill-conceived approach that sidesteps the genuine concern — compensating our healthcare heroes adequately.

While the DOH’s intentions might be well-meant, it’s a short-sighted strategy. Instead of tapping into unlicensed talent pools, the government should create an environment where qualified nurses don’t have to jump through hoops to earn decent wages. It’s time for the government to invest in nurses and prioritize their welfare, lest our health sector continue to bleed.

 Be wary of shellfish

Amid the tranquil allure of Panay Island’s coastal waters lies an invisible peril that demands our attention and vigilance right now: red tide! It cannot be any more urgent following the sudden death of a boy after eating “tahong” or green mussels.

 This tragedy is a haunting reminder of the red tide’s ominous presence. The revelation that this natural phenomenon now plagues 10 areas in Panay Island raises crucial questions. Why did it take a young boy’s tragic fate to prompt official action? The local government and concerned authorities must rise to the occasion, not merely as reactive enforcers of advisories but as proactive guardians of public safety.

To the public, whether residents or visitors to these shores, we must heed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ plea to abstain from consuming shellfish. Let us unite in demanding transparency, swifter responses, and earnest efforts to prevent further harm. Lives depend on it.

End child abuse

In a resounding declaration, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) wants child abuse to stop hiding in the shadows. To break the silence, it underscored the critical role of the Makabata Hotline 1383.

A creation of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), the hotline is armed with the power to shatter silence. DSWD’s spokesperson, Romel Lopez, paints a vivid picture: “A hotline that’s not just a number, but a lifeline for immediate action.”

It is an avenue where legal queries find answers, emotional support finds voice and child rights find defenders. This isn’t just a hotline; it’s a sentinel. With a strategic alliance of CWC, non-governmental allies, and government agencies, it’s a formidable weapon against abuses that thrive in the darkness.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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