200 hospitals shut down on nurses’ lack

Brain drain or the loss of skilled intellectual and technical employees has plagued government and private hospitals in the last two years, causing the permanent closure of 200 institutions across the country and the partial shut down of another 800.

The partial closures meant that one to two hospital wards had stopped operating in the absence of doctors and nurses, who left for better geographic, economic or professional environments.

Former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez Tan, who served under the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, said in an interview that hospitals were forced to cease operations as doctors and nurses were no longer interested to work for them.

Hospitals affected by the migration of health workers, particularly nurses and doctors, are in the remote countryside where health care is badly needed, according to Tan.

Among the hospitals that closed were the Almagro Community Hospital in Western Samar, the Tapul Municipal Hospital, Tangkil Municipal Hospital, Pangutaran District Hospital, Siasi District Hospital and Panamao District Hospital in Sulu, and the Sergio Osmena District Hospital in Zamboanga del Norte.
“In Sulu, majority of the municipalities have only one doctor. The municipalities of Pata, Talipao, Lugus and Pandami have no doctors at all,” Tan said.

Partially closed were the Calbayog District Hospital, Gandara District Hospital, Basey District Hospital and Tarangnan District Hospital in Western Samar, the Malipayon District Hospital, San Jose District Hospital and San Andres District Hospital in Romblon, and the Jolo Provincial Hospital.

So far no hospital, private or government-run, has shut down in Metro Manila and the well-off provinces of Davao and Cebu because of the brain drain, Tan said. Health workers prefer to work for well-known hospitals that are popular among patients.

“Andito kasi ang pera at resources. Kaya nga may overflow ng health workers at pasyente sa mga ospital na ito (Here is where the money and the resources are. That is why there is an overflowing of health workers and patients in these hospitals),” Tan said.

But when one goes to Samar and other poor provinces, like Kalinga Apayao, Mindoro, Sulu and Agusan, and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Caraga Administrative Region, one can find areas with no hospitals, he said.

The latest statistics available from the health department and the National Statistics Office showed the majority of doctors and nurses are concentrated in the National Capital Region and in Region 4-A or the Southern Tagalog. As of 2007, there were 125,899 doctors and 5,426 nurses in the capital and 75,213 nurses and 3,876 doctors in Region 4-A.

In the ARMM there were 4,058 nurses and 2,726 doctors, and in Caraga were 8,854 nurses and 232 doctors. These were the regions with the least numbers of health workers.

Tan said all the hospitals that closed were licensed. “There is no such thing as fly-by-night hospitals, because before a hospital can operate it must have authority from the DOH, and accreditation from the Philippine Health Insurance.”



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