Nurses from the Filipino Nurses United, describing themselves as “overworked and underpaid,” denounced the delay in government efforts to address the concern of healthcare workers regarding their safety and family’s well-being amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
The FNU added that the continuing increase in COVID-19 cases are now taking its toll among nurses that have expressed fear for their safety and that of their families.
FNU vice president Eleonor Nolasco said that nurses are restless as they are being swamped by patients who may be infected and that protest actions are already happening in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila that are expected to snowball to other health facilities as more nurses are coming out to call on the government to improve their conditions.
“Our nurses are very worried because the more the number of cases is increasing, the greater chance for them to get the virus, especially if they do not have adequate supply of PPE (personal protective equipment),” she added.
Aside from safety concerns the nurses have also complained of the non-payment of hazard pay or inadequate compensation, extended working hours and the charging of required quarantine period on their leave of absence credits, among others.
Nolasco gave assurance that nurses are not about to give up but being in an environment where they feel they are not being protected is demoralizing them.
Filipino nurses who spend their days in the front lines deserve better from our government as they man the front lines in this battle against COVID-19. Even if the government’s strategy doesn’t seem to be inspiring much confidence among even regular folk, surely our government and health officials can muster the willpower and determination to do something about the concerns of these most critical yet vulnerable front liners regarding their concerns on PPE, compensation, working hours, and leave credits.
Our government officials who like to think of themselves as front liners while they attempt to manage the country’s COVID-19 response from the safety of the back lines owe the real front liners who have been risking their lives for our countrymen over the past months their bare minimum demands because the Philippines cannot afford it if our nurses give up.
Unlike government officials who have the luxury of giving up on our country without even considering resigning, Filipino nurses’ sense of duty does not allow them that rare privilege. The least we can do is make them feel protected, appreciated and properly compensated for their duty to the country during these difficult times.*