MANILA--Offering medical assistance over the telephone can ease the oversupply of nurses in the Philippines and extend healthcare to remote rural areas, said Senator Edgardo Angara.

Angara said expanding the five-year-old National Telehealth Program will give unemployed nurses jobs to arrest "the apparent deterioration in the quality of nursing education."

Under the University of the Philippines National Telehealth Center, nurses will use mobile phone technology to monitor patients' cases and refer it to the nearest government hospitals.

In case patients need consultation with a specialist, the telehealth nurses can refer them to the national center, which has access to the Philippine General Hospital.

The program was launched under the Doctors to the Barrios program of the Department of Health with P100 million budget allocations for 2009 and 2010.(Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)