DOH to form advisory council to address nurses’ concerns

By GISELLE OMBAY,GMA Integrated News

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa on Monday said he is planning to establish a National Nursing Advisory Council that will focus on addressing the concerns of Filipino nurses, particularly their departure for better-paying jobs abroad.

In a press conference, Herbosa said he would issue a department administrative order for the creation of the council with a de facto chief nursing officer who will function in a level of an undersecretary.

“The WHO actually recommends a chief nursing officer… Sabi ko [I said], I’ll do more than that. I'll support the creation of a chief nursing officer, but I'll also create a whole council. So natuwa sila [they were happy] because I gave them more than what they were asking for,” he said.

Herbosa added that he would also ask Congress to pass a law to make the appointment of the chief nursing officer legal.

Last week, the Health secretary said the number of nurses working in the Philippines may be depleted in three to five years if the problem of them leaving the country is not addressed eventually.

Herbosa has been pushing for the granting of temporary licenses to board-eligible nursing graduates, considering that there are 4,500 plantilla items for nurses currently vacant in over 70 hospitals of the Department of Health (DOH) nationwide.

However, the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) had pointed out that there is no provision in the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 that would legally allow the issuance of temporary licenses to nursing graduates who have yet to pass the Nursing Licensure Examination.

According to Herbosa, among the members of the proposed National Nursing Advisory Council would be nurses from the private and public sector, including heads of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), Philippine Board of Nursing, and Association of Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines.


“[This is] so we could always make them address all these issues not only the exam, but also life-work balance, and other reasons to motivate them to stay and fight the brain drain of Filipino nurses to other countries,” he said.

PNA president Melvin Miranda welcomed this plan, saying it will help address the nurses’ issues on wages, working conditions, migration, and job security.

“Ang Nursing Advisory Council ay makakatulong para mabalanse ang mga bawat hakbang na isusulong ng DOH sa pamamagitan ng mga evidence-based, data-driven at legal imperatives na magiging primary functions,” he said.

(The Nursing Advisory Council will help balance the plans that will be promoted by the DOH through evidence-based, data-driven, and legal imperatives that will be its primary functions.)

Review center

In the same press conference, Carl Balita, a former senatorial bet, announced that his 180 review centers nationwide are now offering free review for nursing board eligibles.

“We’re starting now. We already have a QR code that they can register on. No requirements needed. All you have to do is to prove you are employed by any healthcare institution, private or government, and you’re boarded,” he said.

According to Balita, who is also a registered nurse, recognition, wellness in the workplace, career progression, security of tenure, and work-life balance would be satisfactory for nurses and would help make them stay in the Philippines. —KBK, GMA Integrated News