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The Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Tong-An releases an official statement regarding the intent to regularize nurses as part of agency’s efforts to end contractualization and for nurses will eventually replace municipal health officers (MHOs) in managing local government unit health programs. These plans were cited by Usec Tong-An in the recent Philippine Nurses Association annual convention.

This MHOs are usually licensed physicians who lead the community health team. Usec Tong-An’s plan to replace them with nurses so that doctors can focus on providing direct patient care.

I am clarifying an announcement I made during the convention of Philippine Nurses Associatio (PNA), one of the largest nursing organization in the country. This is in relation to the Department of Health’s (DOH) plans to regularize these nurses as part of agency’s efforts to stop contractual employees in the bureaucracy. This will take sometime not immediately as it was interpreted in social media postings. The DOH has set a target within three years when a substantial number of nurses are given decent work in the health sector on a full time basis.

In the same conference, I also announced future plans for nurse managers who will eventually replace municipal health officers (MHOs) in managing local government unit health programs in rural health units with MHOs focusing on patient care. This is to attract a new cadre of public health professionals who will champion public health at the grassroots. This merits further study and serious dialogue with many health professionals so that their roles are clarified. If this is feasible and acceptable then an enabling law may be needed for this to become reality.

-DOH UNDERSECRETARY ROGER P. TONG-AN