Filipino nurses unite to pursue global health care and nation-building

TFC participates at the 9th International Nursing Conference’s 1st Global Summit of Filipino Nurses
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1st Global Summit


Quezon City - Metro Manila - Philippines


QUEZON CITY, Philippines - Feb. 23, 2014 - PRLog -- Over 300 Filipino nurses from all over the world gathered for the first ever Global Summit of Filipino Nurses 2014 last January at the Manila Hotel in the Philippines.  With the theme “Filipino Nurses Worldwide: Unite for Global Health and Nation-Building,” The Philippine Nurses Association of America, Inc. (PNAA), Philippine Nurses’ Association Inc. (PNA), Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing (ADPCN) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) brought together Filipino nurses from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa to study the history and impact of their migration, document the experiences and milestones of nurses as they cope in their chosen destinations, monitor government initiatives on this integration, identify means by which the nursing workforce can contribute to Philippine society, and build a network of Filipino nurses.

Victoria Navarro, president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, Inc. (PNAA) said that the 1st Global Filipino Summit, a part of the 9th, International Nursing Conference, is a milestone given the rise in the number of migrant nurses as far back as five decades ago.  “At the conclusion of the summit, we will articulate how each one of us can be part of the 2050 – 2030 Human Resource for Health Master Plan to ensure a well-motivated and appropriately managed workforce,” Navarro said.

The CFO, the agency tasked by the government to reduce the cost of migration and turn challenges into opportunities for overseas Filipinos, supports the summit because they largely serve those who choose the path of migration, including nurses.  According to CFO Secretary Imelda Nicolas, there are 41,000 nurses who left the country as immigrants from 1988 to 2012 while Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) figures show that there were about 63,000 nurses who were deployed from 2007-2011. Given this number, Nicolas recognized not just the need to look after the nurses but also to shape their role in national development.

“Nurses, wherever they may be, are forces to be reckoned with, catalysts for change and reform, doers towards better health for respective communities, advocates for quality nursing education and  working conditions,  supporters of rationalized and needs-based domestic and international deployment policies and programs,” Nicolas said.

Keynote speaker Dr. Enrique Ona, Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) added that according to the POEA, there are 177,414 nurses employed overseas.  However, he said that in comparison, there are only 38,488 nurses employed in the Philippines according to the National Database of Human Resources for Health Information System.

Recognizing the volume of nurses overseas while noting the lack of nurses in the Philippines especially the rural areas, Ona set out the road map for workforce planning for healthcare professionals and workers in order to maximize the nurses’ capabilities and translate them into more efficient health care for patients across ages, economic situation, locations and outlook.  Ona said: “While the Philippines has a huge human reservoir for health, they are unevenly distributed in the country.  Most are concentrated in urban areas such as Metro Manila and other cities. There is a job and skill mismatch due to inadequate job opportunities, limited labor market preparation, and inadequate academic preparation.”

In response to this issue, the DOH has spearheaded three programs: Kalusugan Pangkahalatan, RNheals program, Nurse Deployment Program, and Rural Health Midwives Placement Program.   Ona added that DOH is also pursuing amendments in nursing and midwifery laws to offer more incentives for nurses who will practice in the Philippines’ rural areas.

Other resource persons included Dr. Patricia Licuanan, secretary of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Dr. Julie Lyn Hall, executive officer and external relations officers of the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office (WHO – WPRO) Manila, Dr. Peter Buerhaus, and Gigi Melendez, professor at the Chamberlain College of Nursing Professor.  Highlights of the discussions included education, clinical nursing and disease prevention; the professionalization of the nursing industry; philanthropy and community outreach; government intervention and health economics; the nursing workforce and the global diaspora; the unification and empowerment of nurses; and the future of nursing.

Dr. Buerhaus who discussed data, trends and challenges in the nursing workforce in the United States and its implications for the Philippines during a time of ‘slow jobs recovery’ and health reform implementation, noted that the challenges include the increasing concerns over the quality of nurses from the Philippines.  Buerhaus said there is a need to turn this around in the U.S. otherwise the nation will look at other countries for manpower resource.  He also identified a key issue or the image of Filipino nurses.  However, he said that in a recent study, 20% of respondents said that that there is more respect for nurses because of media.

In an interview with TFC’s Balitang Canada, Middle East, and Europe, Melendez said that aside from the image of nurses, another key issue is the difference in social background between the patient and the nurse.  She said, “Being aware of the culture is learning how to communicate with other countries, whether it is with or without interpreters.  Nurses need to learn verbally and non-verbally.  Just doing that saves a lot of time and provides absolutely more quality care."

Association of Nursing Service Administrators of the Philippines, Inc. (ANSAP) President Ma. Linda Buhat and ADPCN President Elizabeth Roxas jointly announced the creation of a database that will document developments in the nursing industry, including Melendez’ recommendation.

In addition, Buhat and Roxas announced the launch of the Balikturo Project.  As one of the major highlights, PNA President Noel Cadete also proudly announced the drafting of a Declaration of Global Solidarity to create linkages amongst nurses.  According to him, the declaration “outlines recommendations, social, and policy actions to strengthen the positive impact of foreign nurse migrations to turn around the effects of brain drain to brain gain.”

The summit formally closed with the members’ vow to make this first summit as a springboard for future collaborations amongst members that will equate to actionable steps towards improved working conditions of Filipino nurses, world-class health service from these health workers and their role made more meaningful in Philippine society.

TFC and 1st Global Summit of Filipino Nurses 2014 co-convenor CFO, undertake programs that put forth the skill of the Filipino migrant workers and propagate programs aimed at improving their general welfare.

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