‘Emergency compensation’ for health workers on risky duties pushed

Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure which seeks to provide additional benefits to public health workers, notably the establishment of emergency compensation for those who have suffered from work-related injuries and accidents.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1793 which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7305, also known as the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, to ensure that public health workers receive what they truly deserve in their job.

“With the myriad challenges faced by our health workers and the expanse of hardwork and sacrifice that they give, it is therefore imperative that reforms and regulations be made and adopted by amending and expanding R.A. No. 7305,” she said.

In filing SB No. 1793, De Lima noted that health workers are among the most underpaid professionals in the Philippines which explains why majority of them are either tempted to shift careers or to leave the country for better career opportunities.

Based on government figures, about 92, 277 nurses have fled the country since 2012, amounting to a total of 19,000 leaving the Philippines every year.

Moreover, the country is only producing 2,600 doctors a year, resulting to a ratio of one doctor to 33,000 Filipinos, which is far from the ideal 1 or 1.5 doctor for every 1,000 population recommended by the World Health Organization.

“With this alarming data, the Philippines is left with an unfortunate reality of having a grossly disproportionate and inadequate number of health workers in the country, thus resulting to an inadequate health care system,” De Lima pointed out.

“This meager state of our health workers is further aggravated by the non-implementation of benefits mandated by the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, such as overtime pay, nightshift differential, on call pay and hazard pay,” she said.

Under SB No. 1793, to be known as the “”Expanded Magna Carta of Public Health Workers Act of 2018,” all health workers shall enjoy additional benefits under the so-called the Public Health Worker Emergency Compensation.

Under the proposed emergency compensation, health workers shall be entitled to 100 percent of his/her monthly salary following unfortunate incidents – such as permanent total disability or death — that took place while the worker is discharging his/her duty.

The emergency compensation package shall apply to those public health workers who are deployed in hospitals, sanitaria, rural health centers, infirmaries, barangay health stations, clinics and other health-related establishments.

These public health workers are also deployed in difficult areas, strife-torn or embattled areas, distressed or isolated stations, prison camps, mental hospitals, radiation-exposed clinics, laboratories or disease-infested areas or in areas declared under state of calamity or emergency.

De Lima also proposed to hold heads of government-owned hospitals and other public health centers and facilities and local chief executives administratively liable if they willfully circumvent or evade the benefit provision for the public health workers.

Under her proposed measure, any person who willfully interferes with, restrains or coerces any public health worker in the exercise of his/her rights, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not less than 40,000 pesos but not more than 80,000 pesos or imprisonment of not more than year or both at the discretion of the court.

Last month, De Lima filed SR No. 716 calling for the convening of the Congressional Commission on Health (HealthCom) to institute reforms in RA No. 7305 for its effective and fair implementation. [via Senate website]

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