6 years ago on December 14, 2015

The Doctor is Out: Exodus of Filipino Doctors in the Philippines



You can easily spot a Filipino wherever you travel in the seven continents of the world. We are actually, everywhere. While some travel for vacation and leisure, majority of the Filipino populace leave the homeland for a chance of getting and living a better life. Bulk of the Filipino population migrate for the US for a chance to take hold of the American Dream.

Migration is the pressing issue that affects the lives of around 90 million Filipinos – 2.3 million of which are officially coined as Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. Majority of the OFWs are health workers. When a health worker leave the country, they leave behind not only their families but also the impoverished majority who need health care.

According to the UP Workers Union Manila, the Philippines is the no. 1 exporter of nurses worldwide with 85% of Filipino nurses working in some 50 countries. Every month, more than 2,000 nurses leave the Philippines to work abroad. More than 9,000 doctors have already left as nurses. Other professionals like dentists, physical therapists, medical technologists, lawyers, engineers are taking up nursing courses to work as nurses abroad. An estimated 15,000 health professionals leave the country annually for employment abroad.

Doctors-becoming-nurses became a new phenomenon a few years ago resulted to the depletion of doctors. 90% of Municipal Health Officers or doctors working in rural health centers are taking up nursing and expected to leave the country. Anesthesiologists and obstetricians are rapidly depleting, followed by pediatricians and surgeons.

Former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales once said, “The fact that millions of Filipinos are forced to work abroad is proof of government’s economic failure.”

Indeed, economic factor is the number one cause why Filipinos, including the vast number of health professionals, leave the country. The problems of unemployment, low salaries, rising cost of basic commodities and services push many Filipinos to seek greener pastures abroad. Doctors and other health professionals suffer from unjust working conditions, low salaries, denied benefit, job insecurity and restriction of basic rights.

So how does the exodus affect those who were left behind? The out-migration is worsening the shortage of doctors and nurses in the hospital and in rural areas. Some hospitals were completely closed, and some are partially closed for lack of doctors and nurses. Many more municipalities will soon be added to the list of towns which have no doctors and nurses.

Filipino people have to suffer once more with further lack of nurses and doctors on top of insufficient and unaffordable medicines, supplies and health services. It is very ironic that in a country exporting tens of thousands of nurses, 7 out of 10 Filipinos are dying without being seen by health personnel.

When will Filipino health workers cease to cross the red sea towards the so-called “Promised Land?” Will there comes a day when there are no more doctors or nurses here to cure illnesses of the Filipinos?

Medix. Your Digital Clinic Manager.

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