Ateneo Policy Center, Optum host roundtable discussion tackling the nursing crisis in the Philippines
29 Aug 2023
The Ateneo School of Government through the Ateneo Policy Center, in partnership with Optum, hosted a closed roundtable discussion titled “Confronting the Care Crisis: A Roundtable Discussion on the Nursing Crisis in the Philippines” last August 24, 2023. The event was attended by participants from government agencies, healthcare organizations, the private sector, and the academe.
The discussion was grounded on the extant shortage of nurses in the Philippines, driven by a myriad of factors including low wages, heavy workload, poor working conditions, and the prospect of greener pastures abroad.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Philip Arnold P. Tuaño, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, provided an overview on the shortage of nurses in the Philippines. He tackled the impact of this shortage on patient outcomes and weakening the country’s health systems. Dr. Tuaño concluded by stressing the importance of the roundtable discussion in charting a safer and healthier country.
Atty. Darwin Mariano, Vice President for External Affairs of Optum, provided a landscape perspective of this pressing problem. Culling from the insights from their previously organized 2023 International Nurse Leaders Forum, Atty. Mariano shared key lessons and recommendations, underscoring the importance of leveraging technology in deloading nurses, addressing burnout and mental health challenges among nurses, and elevating the nobility of the nursing profession.
Offering an economic perspective to the nursing crisis, Dr. Enrico C. Mina of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, outlined the financial factors underlying nurse exodus in the country. Dr. Mina offered possible countermeasures to this dilemma, stressing the need to increase the productivity of the nursing workforce and reducing hospital operating costs to offset the increase in wages.
Dr. Cristina M. Liamzon, faculty of the Ateneo School of Government, focused on the experiences and challenges faced by nurses working overseas. She delved into the difficulties and hazards faced by migrant workers, including heavy workload, discrimination, deskilling, and comparatively low pay compared with their counterparts. In light of these, Dr. Liamzon highlighted the need to mentally and fiscally prepare migrants and would-be migrants for their integration into their host countries.
Former Amb. Laura Q. Del Rosario, President of Miriam College, continued the discussion on the nursing migration. She delved into the shortage of nurses across the world, highlighting the number of needed workers to fill the gap and projected shortfall should this gap be left unfilled. Zooming into the Philippine context, Amb. Del Rosario surfaced the need for transnational education.
Moderated by Dr. Kenneth Y. Hartigan-Go, Senior Research Fellow of the Ateneo Policy Center, the roundtable discussion touched on the critical need to gather accurate and robust data to clearly identify the numbers needed, ranging from remuneration to nurse-to-patient ratio. There was also a resonant call for multi-stakeholder consultations, primarily with the academe and private sector, to inform policy making and international agreements. The discussion also took into account the increasingly aging population in the Philippines and unprecedented disruptions in the coming years, further highlighting the need for nurses, which can become a national security threat.
From the insights, a five-point agenda was formulated. The proposed recommendations encompassed the prioritization of human resources of health blueprint, bringing in health educators to discuss the future of Philippine health care, conducting an actuarial study on the compensation and benefits of nurses, establishing a common database of healthcare workers, and adopting an economic diplomatic policy that serves national health interests.
The discussion is part of the Ateneo School of Government’s initiative to produce evidence-based policy recommendations to strengthen the healthcare system in the Philippines and advance universal health care.
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