MANILA – About 200,000 Filipino nurses will stage a march at Mendiola on October 17 to protest against their low wages and oppressive policies.
“A volcano is about to explode,” Sean Velchez, a nurse from the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) and current president of the POC employees union, said during a press conference.
She said that nurses play a crucial role in terms of taking care of people.
“However, we and other health workers, continue to be exploited through extended and uncompensated duty hours, heavy work load, low salaries and no security of tenure,” said Velchez.
Thus, they decided to go to the streets on October 17.
Justice for Nurses Coalition is a group made up of nurses from both private and public hospitals and nurses who are not working. It was formed to seek for justice among those in the said industry. It is made up of three organizations which include Nurse 4 Change Movement, Nars ng Bayan and the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
According to the Department of Health, the ideal nurse-patient ratio is one to 12. But in reality, one nurse serves every 50 patients in the country.
“Actually, we call it one is to ward (one nurse attending to patients of one ward),” said Dr. Carl Balita, a nurse advocate and one of the conveners of the Justice for Nurses Coalition.
Meanwhile, Nars ng Bayan president Eleanor Nolasco said that there is only one nurse for 40 villages,
“In 42,000 villages in the country, only 17,000 villages have health stations but not nurses. Some rural health units have only one nurse to service more than 40 villages.”
She added, “There is a great need for nurses as the country’s population increases. But there are few nurses in the public health sector because the government does not open regular position for nurses. Instead, nurses are being hired on a contractual basis, without just compensation and benefits.
On proper compensation
With regard to their wages, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) head nurse Jossel Ebesate said that nurses in private hospitals only receive P3,960 ($88) a month.
“There are private hospitals that are giving salaries to nurses that are even lower than the salary of a house help. That P3,960 a month salary of a nurse in private hospitals is not even the minimum wage,” he said.
He added that the cost of living is P30,000 ($670) a month, “How can they cope with the expenses, especially if they have a family to support?”