Jobs for Nurses in Rural Areas
Finally the Philippine government launched a program to address the increasing number of unemployed nurses in the country. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the government would spend P500 million for this program.
The NARS Program
Under the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) program, some 5,000 to 6,000 nurses will be hired by the government to serve as “warriors of wellness” in poverty-stricken areas. They will be assigned in their hometowns and will be tasked to implement the following (1) initiate health and nutrition programs and first line diagnosis (2) to inform communities about water sanitation and health surveillance (3) immunize children and their mother. They shall also serve as roving nurses for rural schools. This program will enable nurses to gain the necessary training and experience needed for overseas employment. Hired nurses will work for 6-12 months and will receive a monthly allowance of P8,000 plus P2,000 counterpart fund from the local government units.
In the Multi-Sectoral Jobs Summit at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang, President Arroyo said the NARS program mainly targets fresh nursing graduates who have passed the board examination but lack work experience to find jobs abroad.
Meanwhile, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) Secretary General Geneve Rivera said short-term measures such as temporary and low-paying jobs will only cause bigger problems not only for workers, but also for the economy.
“It only provides temporary jobs for nurses. They are only given six months to one year to work. After that period, they won’t have jobs again, and the provinces will again lack nurses and health care professionals,” she said.
“Our nurses will be getting very low wages. According to the Nursing Act of 2002, a nurse’s beginning salary should be P15,000 or salary grade 15. The government’s offer is P8000 from the national government, and a P2000 stipend from the local government. It’s way too low. And we all know that the local government doesn’t have enough budget to provide compensation,” she said.