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Marcos backs proposed 'ladderized' program for nurses

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has expressed support for the proposal to enforce a "ladderized" program for nurses in order to strengthen the country's health sector.

Marcos backed the idea during Thursday's meeting with members of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) in Malacañang in which the challenges confronting the Philippine health sector was discussed, including the issue on nurses and health professionals leaving the country to work abroad.

"I like the ladderized idea for the nurses because that's really becoming a problem – the brain drain that we are suffering," a Palace statement quoted Marcos as saying.

"They [Filipino nurses] are so good everybody wants them, and they are willing to pay for it, and we are not, or we're not able. So we have to come up with some strategies for that," he added.

It was Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire who mentioned the ladderized program, which is being observed in the University of the Philippines-Manila and some local government units (LGUs).

Under the program, UP Manila offers a two-year scholarship for midwives who, upon course completion, come back to the community to serve, according to Vergeire.

After gaining experience, they go back to UP Manila and they get to study nursing for another two years, she added.

"So this ladderized program, there is this counterpart with local government. So we now have a couple of local governments that we have piloted this with. But of course, this would be – eventually para makapag-produce tayo nang madami,” Vergeire said.

Marcos said one of the programs that could help prevent medical practitioners from leaving the country is to provide scholarships.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was tapped to help in addressing the concern in the health sector.

According to PSAC healthcare lead Paolo Maximo Borromeo, TESDA is offering a six-month nursing aide course where graduates could be deployed to hospitals after a few months.

"What the hospitals do is they train them further, another 30 days to do IG, to do phlebotomy, or 'yung nasal – NGT and it improves the ratio of beds that nurses [are] able to do in hospitals. Quick win like that is easy to do if you can encourage more nursing aides," Borromeo said.

Meanwhile, aside from providing scholarships and incentives to nursing schools and nursing students, the PSAC also urged for a review of the salaries and benefits of nurses. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News