SEVERAL national agencies on Thursday launched a program that would generate jobs for nurses in the country.

The program dubbed "Project EntrepreNurse" will make way for the creation of nurses' cooperatives within localities to introduce a whole new home health care industry in the country.

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Initated by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Board of Nursing-Professional Regulation Commission (BON-PRC), Department of Health (DOH), and Philippine Health Corporation (Philhealth), among others, the program will grant nurses' cooperatives with as much as P500,000 worth of grant for their operation.

Davao Region will be the pilot area for the program wherein there will be one nurses' cooperative for each of the five provinces and one for Davao City, Dole secretary Marianito Roque said at Apo View Hotel.

Roque said Davao Region is chosen as the pilot area because the idea for the program was conceptualized by Dole regional Director Jalilo dela Torre.

Dela Torre said other than City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the program has received the support from Governors Corazon Malanyaon, Rodolfo del Rosario, and Douglas Cagas.

"We believe that the local chief executives here are very passionate advocates for health reforms," dela Torre said on the program's effectivity in the region.

A total of P16 million will be required for the entire country in the program's full implementation. An allotment of P1.2 million will be granted for the region with P300,000 per cooperative however Dole regional director Jalilo dela Torre said during the press conference it could go as much as P500,000 per cooperative.

Roque said the program would utilize the high unemployment nursing rate of the country. "There are continous employment opportunities both here and abroad but the situation is that we graduate so much na sobra ito sa absorbtive capacity and overseas employment na available," Roque said.

"Every year for the last 3 years we have about 70,000 new board. Question is if the employment absorption capacity of the Philippines can take that in? Annually 2,500 to 3,500 lang ang nakakapasok sa local employment. Although we have the overseas program na naga-absorb somewhere from 10,000 to 20,000 of our nurses. You add these two it still isn't enough for the number of graduates," Roques said.

The program's strategy is to encourage nurses to form cooperatives with a minimum number of nurse members of 500 and manage nurses' clinic, under the supervision of trained and experienced nurses, which will deploy newly licensed nurses to poor rural communities with little or no access to basic health care, Roque said.

The nurses' services will be compensated by the local government unit (LGU), Philhealth, HMOs, by the patients themselves on per visit basis, or from grants from local and foreign donors. Congressmen and Senator's Priority Development Funds shall be tapped also, Roque said.

Roque said nurses working under the cooperative may have other work as hospital nurses. "The nurses can do it part time but they cannot serve homes and the hospital at the same time. It could be that their home service would be for one or two hours then go back to the hospital," Roque said.

Doctor Josefina Tuazon, Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Nursing (UP-CN), however, clarified that the program is still at the planning stage. "It's stll in the process of really determining the exact form in which it will take," Tuazon said.

The program will be implemented also in cooperation with UP-CN, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), Occupational Health Nurses Association of the Philippines (Ohnap), Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA), Insurance Commission, LGUs and other sponsoring agencies or organizations.