President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. attends the 100th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. at The Manila Hotel. In his speech, Marcos said his administration is committed to raising the profile and improving the working conditions of nurses here and abroad. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Sept 1 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said his administration is committed to raising the profile and improving the working conditions of nurses here and abroad.

He made this commitment in a speech during his attendance at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. at The Manila Hotel.

“As part of our goal to raise the profile and improve the working condition of nurses, we seek to address the disparity in salaries between government hospitals with those in the private sector,” he said.

“Also, we must address the uneven distribution of nurses in different areas around the country. In order to do that, we have to address issues related to health facilities, benefits, and security of tenure,” he added.

Marcos acknowledged that the current salaries of nurses in the Philippines need to be raised, but noted that the government may not have available funds to cover this yet.

“Medyo hirap tayo sa pondo ngayon, kaya’t sa ngayon ganyan lang muna. Pero palagay ko…binibuhay nyo ang may sakit e, ibang usapan yan. Mahirap lagyan ng balor, ng dolyar, ng piso yung trabahong ginagawa ninyo (We are still short of funds now, that’s why that will have to do for now. But I think…because you are caring for the sick, that’s a different story. It is difficult to put a price tag on the job you do),” he said.

He noted that his office is “always open” to dialogue to address the issues concerning nurses and allied healthcare professionals.

Marcos also promised to open more slots to the deployment of nurses abroad while striving to improve domestic opportunities.

In terms of legislation, Marcos backed the passage of House Bill 9389 or the New Philippine Nursing Practice Act” which was recently approved by the House of Representatives on final reading and will be submitted to the Senate for action.

“I have taken special note of the clamor to address issues in the nursing profession by the passage of the New Philippine Nursing Practice Act. This Executive Department together with Congress will work with you to achieve these goals,” he said.

As of Aug. 19, Marcos said the government has disbursed a total of PHP25.82 billion worth of benefits to healthcare workers, especially nurses.

These include hazard duty pay, Covid-19 sickness and death compensation, meals, accommodation and transportation allowances, life insurance, special risk allowance, and the One Covid-19 allowance.

Programs for nurses

Marcos said the government will also continue to pursue programs that support the continuous development of Filipino nurses such as the Nursing Certification program which strengthens and certifies our nurses’ competencies in various specialty areas.

He said the Primary Care Workers Certification program, which provides eligibility requirements, standard competencies, training mechanisms, and certification processes that ensure competent and quality staffing for our healthcare system, will also be offered.

Marcos said they will also support the Leadership Development Courses for Public Health Nurses which aims to capacitate nurses to provide quality health services and become skilled leaders and managers.

The In-Service Post-Graduate Scholarship Program, which will enhance nurses’ competencies through formal education, and the E-learning program, which provides access to free, continuing professional development, and accredited courses in many many disciplines of study, will also continue to be provided.

Filipino nurses’ compassion and kindness

Meanwhile, Marcos praised expressed gratitude for the sacrifices and contributions of all Filipino nurses.

Speaking from his own experience after contracting Covid-19 twice, Marcos said he witnessed how Filipino nurses risked their lives to care for the sick and even opted not to return to their homes to avoid spreading the virus to their families.

“During my fight against Covid-19, I benefited from the able and healing hands of competent Filipino nurses. because of you, and this I cannot stress more, because of you and the sacrifices that you made knowing that there is a risk involved, but because of that sacrifice, because of that compassion, because of that professionalism our nation has survived the most difficult moments of this pandemic,” he said.

He said Filipino nurses stood out from others not just for their competence and dedication, but for their “compassion and kindness.”

“Marami namang magaling diyan ngunit kahit yung mga foreigner hinahanap nila, mas gusto nila na ang nag-aalaga sa kanila mga Pilipino na nurse. At hindi naman kataka-taka dahil kapag alagaan ka ng Pilipino na nurse gagaling ka talaga (There are so many excellent nurses, but even foreigners prefer being taken care of by Filipino nurses. And there is no surprise there because if a Filipino nurse takes care of you, you will surely recover,” he said.

He also said it was a pleasure to attend the PNA’s 100th anniversary because his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., also attended the association’s golden anniversary.

Founded in 1922, the association was established to promote professional growth towards the attainment of the highest standard of nursing.

The anniversary celebration coincides with the 65th Nurses’ Week Celebration and its National Annual Convention 2022. (MNS)