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“I did it in the PNP, and I hope I can help employees, especially nurses and doctors who haven’t received their government benefits,” says DOH Under Secretary Camilo Cascolan.
MANILA, Philippines — Newly appointed Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Camilo Cascolan said he will work to boost the morale and well-being of health care workers who have been on the front lines of the country’s response to the pandemic.
“One of the things I really intend to do is lift the spirits and well-being, especially of our frontliners, especially those in the medical field,” Cascolan said in a Rappler Talk interview. Wednesday, November 16.
Cascolan said he achieved this when he was chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“I did this in the PNP, and I hope I can help employees, especially nurses and doctors who have not received their government benefits,” he said.
The health official said he hopes to discuss this with senior DOH officials, as he himself has heard complaints about delayed and unreleased benefits for health care workers.
“I still have the question, of course. And at the same time, through the meetings of the executive committee, [I hope that] we will be able to come up with solutions on how we could help lift the spirits of our people, especially in the medical field,” he added.
Cascolan was tasked with overseeing field operations in the Visayas, particularly the deployment of the vaccine.
In the third year of life with COVID-19, health workers are still struggling to claim their unpaid benefits from the government. Recently, they staged a protest urging the Marcos administration to expedite the release of their long-awaited incentives – a COVID-19 Allocation (OCA), Health Emergency Allocation (HEA) and Special Risk Allocation (SRA) .
United Filipino Nurses said less than 50% of eligible nurses in public and private hospitals were able to claim their OCA for the month of January.
The DOH said the country needs 106,000 nurses in public and private facilities and hospitals. Health official Maria Rosario Vergeire said one of the reasons the country lacks health workers is migration. She said the DOH wants to maintain the annual deployment cap of 7,500.
At the height of the pandemic in 2021, various hospitals were hit by a wave of resignations, worsening the labor shortage and exposing the fate of health workers in the Philippines.
Filipino nurses continue to seek better opportunities abroad in pursuit of higher pay and better working conditions. The DOH had said that as of September 30, the government had disbursed more than 26 billion pesos for providing benefits and compensation related to COVID-19.
Watch the Rappler Talk episode below.