SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go echoed and supported the Department of Health’s call to declare the year 2020 as the “Year of Filipino Health Workers” to honor health workers in the country, particularly now that the country continues to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I am expressing my full support to the recommendation of the Department of Health urging the proclamation to declare the year 2020 as the Year of Filipino Health Workers,” Go said.
The senator, who is also the Senate Chair of the Committee on Health and Demography, stated that the public should recognize the hard work and dedication the country’s health workers provide especially as they serve the country as frontliners in the current health crisis it faces today.
Go said that there is a need to highlight the importance of the country’s health workforce in every way the government can while continuously providing them with the necessary resources they need to fulfill their duties.
“Habang patuloy nating nilalabanan ang COVID-19, bigyan rin natin ng pansin ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga medical frontliners upang magampanan ang kanilang tungkulin,” Go said.
The senator also emphasized that the best way to recognize the sacrifices of health workers is for the public to cooperate with authorities and comply with the guidelines set by health officials. He said that following health and safety protocols can save lives, especially of front liners who are exposed to the risks caused by COVID-19.
“Higit sa lahat, sumunod tayo sa mga health and safety protocols in place. Huwag po tayo magkumpyansa. Gawin po natin ang parte natin sa laban na ito. Ang kooperasyon natin ay makakapagligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino, lalo na ng mga health workers na itinataya ang kanilang buhay upang mailigtas ang buhay ng iba,” Go urged the public.
In addition, Go said that a proclamation may also serve as a call to unite key stakeholders and movers in both public and private sectors, and give due honor and recognition to the country’s health workers.
“Sa panahon ng COVID-19 outbreak sa bansa, ang ating mga health workers ang nasa gitna ng laban na ito. Sila ay mga bayani din sa labang ito,” Go stated pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Dedikasyon sa propesyon, sakripisyo ng kanilang buhay kahit sa gitna ng pangamba na makuha nila ang sakit, at walang sawang serbisyo para sa kapakanan at kaligtasan ng mga Pilipino. Dapat lamang na maibigay natin sa kanila ang pagkilala at malaman ng bawat Pilipino ang kanilang papel sa pagsugpo ng COVID-19 sa bansa at sa iba pang mga sakit,“ he explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a declaration considering the current year as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife “to recognize the vital role of these health workers in achieving sustainable development goals and universal health coverage.”
According to DOH Undersecretary Roger P. Tong-an, health workers and professionals are the backbone of the country’s health care system “whether performing the essential services or responding to a crisis." Based on the 2018 Philippine Health System Review of the WHO, the country has over 187,540 health workers which comprise a major component of the Philippine work force.
On his end, Go has constantly prioritized the welfare of the health workers and has pushed for several initiatives to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in the country.
Nurses are expected to enjoy a salary hike which will not be lower than Salary Grade 15 after the Senate Committee on Finance approved needed appropriations pursuant to the Supreme Court decision upholding Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.
“This is a long overdue compensation denied to them. Hindi na natin sila paghihintayin pa…magkakaroon na sila ng increase sa kanilang sweldo,” he said during the third and final reading for the 2020 national budget. With the Senate’s approval of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, P3.173 billion has been appropriated to upgrade the salaries of Nurse I and II positions.
He also fought for sufficient funding for various health programs during the budget deliberation. “As Chairman of the Committee on Health, I commend this chamber for approving the additional P7 billion for the Human Resources for Health Deployment Program. This is to ensure the continued employment of our health workers in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and economically disadvantaged municipalities. Wala pong mawawalan ng trabaho, tuloy-tuloy po ang serbisyo,” he said.
Go also filed Senate Bill No. 395, also known as the "Advanced Nursing Education Act of 2019", which seeks to protect and improve the nursing profession by instituting measures that will result in relevant nursing education, humane working conditions and better career prospects for Filipino nurses.
“Maraming mga nurses ang kailangan pa pumunta sa ibang bansa para mabigyan ng mas magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya. Bigyan natin sila ng kaukulang suporta at tamang kompensasyon upang mas ma-enganyo silang magtrabaho sa sariling bayan,” Go explained.