Press Release
April 29, 2018

De Lima pushes for proper compensation for health workers

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate resolution seeking to promote the social and economic well-being of Public Health Workers (PHW) by ensuring that they are properly compensated.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 716 calling for the convening of the Congressional Commission on Health (HealthCom) pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 7305 to institute reforms in the law for its effective and fair implementation.

"Fifteen years since its enactment, monitoring of the implementation of the law has been generally weak and our PHWs still remain undervalued," she said.

"There is an urgent need for HealthCom to convene and to revisit the law and the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations to determine what provisions need to be amended in order to plug the loopholes and to bridge the statutory gaps," she added.

Under RA No. 7305, also known as the "Magna Carta of Public Health Workers," PHWs are entitled to subsistence allowance, laundry allowance, longevity pay, hazard pay, night shift differential, free living quarters or quarters allowance, remote assignment allowance for doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives, higher salary grade upon retirement, among others.

However, a 2011 Philippine Institute for Development Studies study stated that among the listed benefits above, only the subsistence allowance and laundry allowances are given to PHWs, showing how successive governments have failed to fully provide for the payment of benefits prescribed in the law.

According the said study, local government units' varying capacity to pay benefits of PHWs has contributed to differences in benefits received even among those PHWs equal in rank.

As such, De Lima pointed out in her resolution that the inconsistencies and discrepancies in the payment of benefits prescribed in R.A. 7305 should be reviewed to avoid propagating discontent among PHWs.

"Because of the current poor working conditions in the government health sector, PHWs, especially nurses, are motivated to seek employment overseas. As to doctors, less are pursuing the profession," she said.

Based on government figures, 92, 277 nurses have fled the country since 2012, amounting to a total of 19,000 leaving the Philippines every year.

Moreover, the country is only producing 2,600 doctors a year, resulting to a ratio of one doctor to 33,000 Filipinos, which is far from the ideal 1 or 1.5 doctor for every 1,000 population recommended by the World Health Organization.

By ensuring that PHWs are properly compensated, De Lima maintained that the government can discourage nurses to seek employment abroad and encourage aspiring doctors to pursue Medicine.

The Senator from Bicol said proper treatment of PHWs can benefit patients through the delivery of quality health care service.

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