Doctors, nurses in rural areas oppose government's plan for them to substitute for NCR medical workers

Doctors and nurses in the rural areas of the country are opposing the government’s plan to pull them out of their communities and substitute for medical workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) saying this will put geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) at risk of COVID-19.


“Paano kapag from NCR, tapos bumalik kami sa area, kami pa ang mag dala ng virus? (What will happen if we return to our communities and it turns out that we have the virus?),” Dr. Carissa Rulla, a member of the Doctor to the Barrios (DTTB) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) told DZMM Teleradyo on Friday.

Rulla said the communities they serve are those who have yet to be reached by the government's health services which makes it even more necessary for them to stay.

“Ano na lang mangyayari sa communities namin if we leave them? (What will happen to our communities if we leave them?),” she said.

On August 2, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government plans to create a “substitution team” for medical workers in the NCR to be composed of medical workers from the health department's regional offices and hospitals.

Rulla said they have already received a memo from the DOH, but clarified that the transfer to the NCR is “voluntary.”

“Nakalagay naman for doctors and nurses who are willing to serve” sa NCR, so wala naman pong pilitian na nagyayari ngayon (We’re not being forced to serve in NCR hospitals. The DOH said only those who are willing will be transferred),” she said.

So far, Rulla said nobody from their group has volunteered to be transferred.

Rulla also said that while Mindanao only has a few COVID-19 patients, there is no assurance that the number of cases will not increase.

“Di natin ma-assure na di tataas ‘to specially with the Balik Probinsya program, doon po kasi nanggaling yung mga COVID cases even sa other provinces ng BARMM (We can’t be assured that the number of COVID-19 cases will not increase, specially because we have the Back to the Province program, where most of the cases in the BARMM provinces are coming from),” she added.

Rulla urged the national government to exhaust all efforts before pulling the rural doctors and nurses out of their communities.

“Kailangan natin i-strengthen yung public health system para di lalong kumalat yung COVID (We need to strengthen our public health system to avoid the further spread of COVID),” she said.

Jocelyn Andamo, secretary-general of Filipino Nurses United, echoed Rulla’s concern and said the government needs a more comprehensive, scientific, and rational response to the COVID pandemic.

Andamo said that 70 percent of the country's health workforce is already in the cities.

“Kung i-pu-pull out, mas lalong kawawa po ang ating mga kababayan sa probinsya lalo sa stage ngayon na di natin masasabi na na-contain na po ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 (If we pull out medical workers, who will take care of those in the provinces who likewise need medical attention especially now that we still can’t say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained),” Andamo told DZMM Teleradyo.