Fight Against Coronavirus: Issues Faced by Nurses in The Philippines
There's a good chance that you've been reading a lot about Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in the news throughout the past month.
The pandemic is rapidly evolving, and the whole world is feeling its impact.
Thanks to all the frontliners, most notably, the healthcare workers diligently providing their critical services to fight the virus every single day.
To show gratitude, government officials are doing their best to support the residents in every aspect - from providing financial assistance to ramping up the production of necessary supplies.
Have you ever thought about how third world countries are coping on the other side of the world during this difficult time?
Developed countries are working to replenish critical personal protective equipment (PPE) as they are already running low for their local healthcare providers. If first world countries are struggling with their stocks, imagine the circumstances in third world countries.
Let's take The Philippines as an example. Filipino nurses are strong-willed to battle the coronavirus pandemic, yet they are struggling with the availability of PPEs. Healthcare workers in rural areas are using homemade masks made of cloth as a replacement for surgical masks. The cloth mask provides insufficient protection, but it's a better alternative than using nothing. Equipment supply shortage can cause significant dangers for front liners and their patients' health.
CNN reported that at least 17 healthcare front liners have already died as of April 4, and over 600 are in quarantine.
The Philippines is known to produce internationally qualified nurses. It is a home of healthcare professionals who are preparing to migrate to the United States and other parts of the world.
Have you ever wondered why healthcare professionals are so eager to go abroad instead of staying with their families in their home country?
The answer lies in the compensation they receive for the amount of work they do.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, nurses are getting paid at an average of Php 21,000 per month - that's roughly 415 USD per month. In addition to many nurses being underpaid, some hospitals offer unpaid positions. These are typically pursued by nurses with a strong desire to gain experience and get their feet into the industry
However, Philippine's Department of Health (DOH)'s recent request for volunteers is not getting a good response in the medical community. This request is a call for doctors, nurses, allied healthcare workers, and non-medical hospital attendants. The volunteer job consists of 14 days of eight-hour shifts, followed by 14 days of mandatory on-site quarantine and is compensated only with Php 500 (around 10 USD) daily.
Filipino Nurses United (FNU) has issued recommendations to help support the understaffed hospitals during the pandemic. They suggested that instead of calling for volunteers, DOH should hire an additional 240 nurses as regular employees in each of the 17 regional hospitals.
In addition, FNU has proposed the immediate hiring of one nurse per barangay to solely work on COVID-19 public health education, community testing, contact tracing, and status reporting of persons under monitoring (PUM).
"I am a nurse. I may get infected and may die due to the virus, but it is my job that I must fulfill. I took an oath, and it is my responsibility to provide my service to my community," said Queenie Anne Apuado, a Registered Nurse in The Philippines.
They are the modern heroes who are risking their lives by continuing their duties - despite the scarcity of medical supplies, and the possibility of contracting the disease that has claimed thousands of lives by now.
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