Press Release
September 27, 2006

Cayetano sponsors bill marking May 7 as 'Health Workers' Day'

Senate health and demography committee chairperson Sen. Pia S. Cayetano will sponsor on second reading today Senate Bill No.1972, "An Act Declaring May 7 of Every Year as Health Workers' Day," to honor the country's 350,000 health workers.

The bill, principally authored by Sen. Edgardo Angara, re-establishes May 7 of each year as a special working holiday.

The date was previously marked in 1987 through Proclamation No. 96, issued by then Pres. Corazon Aquino, but Cayetano pointed out that its commemoration has been virtually unheard of in recent years. "The commemoration of 'Health Workers' Day' appears to have faded into oblivion, and along with it, the subject matter of its celebration," she noted.

The significance of the measure goes beyond declaring another red-letter day, Cayetano stressed. She hopes its annual observance will draw public attention to the plight of the "unsung heroes" of the country's health care system and underscore the urgency for government to allot sufficient budget to improve health services, and enhance the social and economic well-being of the country's health workforce.

To ensure meaningful observance, the bill mandates all heads of government health facilities, including local government health centers, and private hospital employers to encourage and afford sufficient time and opportunities for their employees to engage and participate in any activity to mark Health Workers' Day.

She acknowledges that SBN 1972 alone will not solve the mass exodus of health workers or the crisis of our health care system, which she said resulted from decades of budget cuts, under-spending and government neglect.

"But SBN 1972 will go a long way towards convincing doctors, nurses and other health workers that society has not overlooked their valuable contributions," she said. "This bill is also a necessary step towards asserting the rights and dignity of health workers and instituting reforms that must address their basic problems and needs and improve their own quality of life."

She said the full implementation of landmark measures like RA 7305, or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, will greatly help in uplifting the living and work conditions of the country's health workers.

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