Zero applicants for Covid-19 health staffing worries DOH-11

Jul. 30, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Local health officials said there have been no applications to their call for health workers for Covid-19 response, as they raise concern on the exhaustion of its personnel.

Dr. Marie Yvette Barez, Infectious Diseases Specialist of the Southern Philippines Medical Center, revealed problems in their staffing to respond to rising cases of Covid-19 in Davao Region.

“Many are in quarantine, and we lack the staff,” Barez said.

In Davao Region, the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City are the two government hospitals designated as Covid-19 referral hospitals.

Barez said there are still no takers or applicants upon knowing their assignment in a Covid-19 care area.

The lack of personnel comes at a time when the Department of Health has launched its “Hospital One Incident Command” headed by Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega to address the increasing health demands during the pandemic with the 4-S framework: space/structure, staff, stuff, and services/system.

Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Health Region 11 Dr. Lenny Joy Rivera confirmed that as the hospital tries to expand their Covid-19 facilities like wards and ICU units, the biggest problem is the person who will take care of this.

“We have the money for salaries and vacant positions to apply. But the problem is there are no applicants,” she said.

Rivera pointed out the lack of health care personnel is not only in Davao City but of the entire region.

Private hospitals like the Davao Doctors Hospital, Davao Medical School Foundation, and Metro Davao Medical and Research Center have prepared areas and facilities for patients infected with the virus.

Dr. Gene Nisperos of Community Medicine Development Foundation pointed out the low turnout of applications is due to the situation on how government doctors and nurses are overwhelmed with the workload, with a lack of support and protection. Financial issues such as benefits that are difficult to claim are also a factor.

“The DOH must be doing a terrible job if they cannot hire nurses and doctors in a country that has been the top exporter of health workers in the last 60 years,” Nisperos added.

Nisperos said the DOH should take lessons in the Doctor to the Barrios Campaign of former Health Secretary Dr. Juan Flavier, where it launched an education component in schools, radio, and TV programs to stir public opinion.(

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