Gaps and Shortages-A A +A
Slice of Life
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MYRNA, 32, left her young family to the care of her mother to work overseas. Everyday, thousands of health care practitioners like her are leaving the country to work abroad. They also leave a dearth in local expertise and in the number of professionals able to serve the local hospitals.
In countries as Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, they could earn as much as $5,000 a month compared to local rates in many private and publicly owned hospital where they only get to earn P6,000 to P15,000 a month.
Their loss is compensated with the foreign remittance which keeps the economy afloat but it also leaves local residents without proper medical attention. In many areas, the lack of health professionals makes it difficult to respond to the growing health needs of the public.
The global competition for medical talent has distorted the local market for health professionals in the country. As the population of the developed world ages, many countries face shortages of quality doctors and registered nurses. Foreign countries are turning to us to fill in the need for health care providers.
Recent studies show that about 4,000 doctors-turned-nurses have already left the country. Another 4,000 more doctors are currently studying nursing, most likely in preparation for jobs abroad.
The higher wages that nurses earn abroad have greatly diminished domestic interest in studying medicine with the aim of becoming a full-fledged doctor. Since 2000, enrollment in medical schools has declined by an alarming average of almost six percent a year, reflecting the "low return on investment" in the medical sector.
This is understandable considering that while medical students have to pay tuition of about P100,000 per semester for an eight-semester degree, their starting salaries at private and public hospitals on average start at P17,000 to P21,000 per month or less than a tenth of what they could earn abroad.
Hard financial realities are adversely affecting the quality of medical services. Across the country, about 200 hospitals have recently closed down because of a lack of doctors and nurses. Another 800 hospitals are considered "partially closed", which means that at least one of their wards has been shuttered because of the lack of qualified health personnel.
The growing dearth of health care personnel coupled with low national investment on health care prevention and services leaves much to be desired. The flight continues while an oversupply of nursing graduates unable to find appropriate work in the domestic scene remains a glaring reality. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 16, 2013.