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Duterte’s SONA contained empty promises for health workers –FNU

President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) contained empty promises for health care workers amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said Tuesday.

"Amid the alarming COVID-19 cases increase averaging 2000 in a day, he has made no mention of health priorities and barely cited any health sector support in the immediate future,” the FNU said in a statement.

The FNU also said the government’s plans for the pandemic was “not clearly outlined” in the President’s speech.

"The SONA did not have clear plans on COVID like the conduct of free mass testing, early detection and quarantine facilities even as President Duterte forgot or missed thanking the nurses who handle... 6-12 COVID patients 24/7,” it said.

"Nurses are tired and demoralized with no sufficient protection, overwhelmed with workload and severe understaffing,” it added.

On Monday, one of the motions Duterte urged Congress to pass was the Advanced Nursing Education Act, which was filed by Senator Bong Go.

However, the FNU said that this “is a potentially added burden to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Act of 2016” as it had the same framework to improve nursing practice but “veered away from the basic issues of just compensation and adequate benefits for nurses.”

The FNU also lamented how only health care workers with severe cases of COVID-19 are given P100,000 under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act while hazard pay and special risk allowances do not include private sector nurses.

"We are one with the health sector and the Filipino people in the continuing fight for the right to health especially for the majority poor,” it said.

"There should be a free, comprehensive, unified health care system that will ensure the basic rights of the people to free health services while nurses and other health workers are given just living wage and adequate benefits within a safe and humane work environment,” it added. — DVM, GMA News