Health workers’ interests pushed at National Policy Dialogue


December 15, 2022 — To improve delivery of healthcare services in the country, UP Manila College of Nursing spearheaded the "Policy Dialogue on Supporting Frontline Health Workers’ Resilience and Retention Beyond the Pandemic" on Nov. 10–11, 2022 at Conrad Hotel, Pasay City, Philippines.


"We all need to work together to implement the National Human Resources for Health Master Plan. This sets the roadmap for us to fortify our partnerships and collaborations with different agencies and institutions to strengthen our human resources for health (HRH)," said Department of Health Officer-in-charge Dr. Maria Rosario Clarissa S. Vergeire. She added that to ensure an adequate number of healthcare workers in our country, the DOH is providing scholarships, foreign exchange students, and fellowships; and would like to pursue the stepladder program being implemented by the UP Manila School of Health Sciences.


To address the current challenges, WHO Western Pacific Regional Office Health Policy and Service Design Coordinator Lluís Vinyals Torres said that the World Health Organization recommends the following policies: Global Health and Care Worker Compact (2022), Working for Health Action Plan (2022-2030), and a Guideline on Health Workforce Development, Attraction, Recruitment, and Retention in Rural and Remote Areas (2021).



The DOH is currently pushing for legislation standardizing competitive compensation benefits and incentives in both the public and private sectors at the national and local levels.



The heads of the HRH groups in the country expressed that the policy should advocate the provision of enough available staff, including additional recruitment with flexible working hours, fair distribution of workload and tasks, and longer working hours that are temporary with rest periods. Also urged were the enactment of the Nursing Act, translation of the policies into guidelines that will be implemented in the local government units, amendment of some of the Midwifery Law provisions, and support for House Bill 3298 and Senate Bill 1447.


The DOH is currently pushing for legislation standardizing competitive compensation benefits and incentives in both the public and private sectors at the national and local levels and an amendment to Republic Act 7305, or the "Magna Carta, for public health workers to include private health workers", said DOH Health Policy and Infrastructure Development Team Usec. Dr. Kenneth G. Ronquillo.





"Remember that there will be no Universal Health Care (UHC) without health workers," said Dr. Fely Marilyn E. Lorenzo, CPH professor and HRH 2030 Philippines Project Director as she highlighted the significance of the UHC law which will employ an integrated and comprehensive approach to ensure health literacy among Filipinos that requires all levels of care to be connected.


To address the inadequate and inequitable distribution of HRH, Department of Labor and Employment Assistant Sec. Dominique Rubia-Tutay stated that one of the policy proposals of DOLE is the periodical re-evaluation and calculation of recommended ceilings in terms of the deployment of healthcare workers until the full system of HRH production is reached. This includes authoring or resuming regular classes for health professions and resuming regular professional licensure examinations.


"COVID gave us an example that policies on top would not always be good down to the ground," said UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla who noted that the COVID-19 highlighted the shortage of HRH and emphasized that securing and understanding the data not only on the national scale, but down to the regional and provincial levels is the first step in creating concrete policies and implementing programs.

Charmaine Lingdas