Shortage of able nurses seen

Published by rudy Date posted on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The recruitment industry yesterday warned of a lingering shortage of qualified nurses for overseas hiring.

The Federated Association of Manpower Exporters (FAME) said the growing lack of experience among new nurses would prevent the country from coping with the demand abroad.

Jackson Gan, FAME vice president, said even the government’s planned deployment of 10,000 nurses to rural areas would not help solve the shortage of qualified nurses.

He noted that trained nurses in specialty areas like surgical ward, burn intensive care unit, neo natal ICU, cardiac catheter lab, nursery, pediatrics, cardio-vascular, emergency, therapy, and clinical wards are in demand in the Middle East and the Western countries of USA, Britain, Australia and Canada.

However, Gan noted that those nurses to be hired by the government and assigned in the provinces will not be able to get the experience and training from rural hospitals.

“The program is laudable since it will give poor people in the rural areas minimum medical care, but hospitals abroad need trained nurses in highly specialized areas,” he explained.

Gan called on Congress to allocate budget for programs to improve the facilities of government hospitals in the provinces or cities so nurses can be hired in their areas and acquire the training needed for work abroad.

Funds can also be given to support large private hospitals in urban cities to hire more nurses for exposure to actual hospital operations.

“It is a much better way to help the plight of unemployed nurses instead of sending them to the provinces to do clinical work, which is not the requirement abroad,” Gan added.

Meanwhile, a Philippine government team is leaving next week to look into the possibility of lifting the deployment to Iraq and three other countries.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili said the team will assess the situation in Iraq and make the appropriate recommendation to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“The team makes the necessary assessment and we will just wait for the recommendation of the DFA whether to lift the ban or not,” Manalili explained.

She said the POEA asked for a review of the deployment ban in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Casualties

In a related development, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the number of workers who have been laid off due to the global financial crisis already reached at least 34,000 since October last year.

Speaking during a press briefing at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City, Roque said the existing number of those who have been laid off is lower than the 87,000 level of permanent job losses that the country experienced when the 1997 financial crisis struck most parts of Asia.

He said those who have been laid off were mostly from the electronics and semi-conductor production industries.

Roque, however, said that so far there has been no reported layoff in the electronics industry.

“Things appeared to have stabilized a bit because for the past few weeks there were no layoffs in the electronics industry compared to the past months when we noted job losses almost everyday in electronics,” he added.

The labor chief said the government would embark on an intensive effort to support workers in the agri-based industries, particularly those in the rubber, coconut, abaca, tuna and sardines, banana and pineapple production.

“We will find ways on how to best support the agri-based industries so that plant and farm workers would continue to have jobs,” he said.

Roque also emphasized that the Middle East remains to be the biggest market for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with more than two million of the total 4.2 million foreign contract workers in the Gulf States comprised of Filipinos.

“The Middle East is still the biggest absorber of our workers and it seems to be so for the next years,” he said.

However, he declined to discuss issues concerning wage increases in the face of the prevailing financial turmoil.

“I cannot and would not discuss anything about wage increases until the right time comes which shall also be tackled by the regional tri-partite wage and productivity board (RTWPB) in each of the regions,” Roque said. – Mayen Jaymalin with Edith Regalado, Philippine Star

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