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Higher pay for medical practitioners a way to stop "brain drain" -- Villar

October 18, 2004

MANILA (PNA) -- Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, has expressed alarm over the mass exodus of medical practitioners particularly doctors and nurses.

According to him, giving more competitive salaries is a way to curb this.

Villar calls for a review of the salaries of government doctors, nurses, barangay health workers and other medical practitioners to make it more competitive with those given in foreign countries.

"Everyone is talking about the 'brain drain' in the medical field, but what are we doing to put a stop to this? The statistics is a cause for concern already, it was reported that one out of every five Filipino doctors are working as nurses abroad. The only reason why these qualified doctors would rather work as nurses abroad is because of the higher pay there," he said.

Villar cited that government doctors receive only an average monthly pay of P15,000, while doctors who work as nurses in the US earn 16 times more or over P200,000 a month.

He further cited that nurses working in Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom earn salary of anywhere between P40,000 and P120,000 or even more.

"Let's face it, our government medical practitioners here are getting measly salaries. The government has failed to increase the salaries of doctors and nurses due to the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), which puts a cap on their monthly pay. But we need to make their salaries at par with their counterparts abroad or even in the local private practice, or else we will see more of them leaving our shores for greener pastures," said Villar.

Based on figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), around 55,355 nurses were deployed abroad from 1995 to 2002-a figure which is further increasing. So much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) already recognizes the Philippines as the largest exporter of registered nurses.

"These nurses leave the country soon after their graduation, around 15,000 nurses from 45 nursing schools leave for employment abroad every year. Why? Again, because of the pay difference," he further said.

The minimum basic pay of nurses in public health institutions is P13,300 -- only six percent and 11 percent of what nurses in the US and the UK earn respectively.

According to Villar, there is really an urgent need to stop the mass exodus of medical practitioners considering also that the country has one of the lowest doctor/nurse-patient ratios in the world.

As of 2003, there is only one government doctor for every 28,493 Filipinos and one nurse for every 16,986 Filipinos.


 

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