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COVID-19 WATCH

Unlicensed med, nursing graduates called to volunteer

Maria Romero

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The government is ramping up calls for volunteer health workers to join the country’s fight against the coronavirus as cases continue to hike.

In a memorandum for President Rodrigo Duterte dated 8 April, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi wants to tap unlicensed graduates of nursing and medicine courses to boost the country’s medical manpower.

“I would like to reiterate for the President’s consideration my earlier text recommendation to out Cabinet Viber Group to call on those who took the medical and nursing board exams for the last two years but did not make it, to increase our health care workers,” Cusi stated.

“These individuals will be helpful given their educational background in the medical field, in addressing our health concern against COVID-19 and we can classify them as the country’s pandemic team.”

Cusi said volunteers will be subjected to the criteria and recommendation by the Department of Health (DOH).

He proposed to give volunteers a probationary permit which can be converted to an official license once they have done at least six months to one year duty under the supervision of licensed doctors and nurses.

“I do hope that the President will consider this option,” Cusi said.

With close to 4,000 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, the lack of manpower in healthcare is being felt in countries worldwide, with some offering enticing incentives to retired medical workers to aid the fight versus COVID-19.

The DOH earlier called on doctors, nurses, and nurse assistants to volunteer for the government. Applicants will be asked to answer a survey form, attend orientation, train, then sign a waiver and non-disclosure agreement.

Upon completion of the one-month job, the volunteers will undergo a 14-day self-quarantine before they can return to their families.

If accepted, a volunteer health worker will work in one of three COVID-19 referral hospitals. They will be provided with free food and accommodation for one month and compensation of P500 per day, the current daily minimum wage in Metro Manila.

The compensation for volunteer medical workers was slammed by netizens, calling out the health department to stop “exploiting nurse professionals in the guise of heroism.”

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