UNLESS greater investment in quality training is made now and decent working conditions with adequate pay are ensured to retain nurses in the Philippines, there would be a shortfall of 249,843 nurses in the country by 2030, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Tauhidul Islam and Socorro Escalante, current acting WHO representatives for the Philippines, said investments in quality nursing training and ensuring adequate pay and decent working conditions will help improve health outcomes, promote gender equality and support economic growth in the Philippines.
They also pushed for local opportunities for career development in the WHO’s State of the World’s Nursing 2020 report.
They noted that only 50 percent to 60 percent of nursing graduates in the Philippines become professional nurses who are eligible to practice as nurses in the country.
“The Philippine Government, as well as the private sector will need to address issues on uncoordinated production and inequitable distribution by promoting decent jobs and local opportunities for career development, if they are to retain adequate number of appropriately trained nurses for the needs of the health system,”
Globally, the shortfall is projected to reach 4.6 million nurses if no action is taken now, the report added.
The report was released on World Health Day, at a time when nursing staff and other health professionals are working around the clock responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“The case for investing in the nursing workforce has never been clearer,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.
“Right now, nurses are on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight, working tirelessly to save lives and protect others in their community. Governments across the Western Pacific Region must invest in strengthening their nursing workforce as an essential part of preparedness for health challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, but also the health challenges brought about by climate change, ageing populations and a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases,” he said.
For this year’s World Health Day, the report was produced by WHO in partnership with the International Council of Nurses and the global Nursing Now campaign, as well as support from governments and other partners.
The report provides a global picture of the nursing workforce, using data and standardized indicators from 193 countries and areas including the Philippines.
At the World Health Assembly in May 2019, ministers of health from across the globe designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
It marks 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale—the founder of modern nursing, and recognizes the critical contribution these professions make to global health.
A similar report on the midwifery workforce will be launched in 2021. (SunStar Philippines from PR)