Lawmaker seeks lifting of moratorium on nursing courses

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The chairperson of the House Committee on Health on Monday called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to lift the moratorium on the opening of new programs in nursing in light of the shortage of nurses in the country amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a privilege speech during the plenary session, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan said it is high time for CHED to assess the relevance of its Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 32 issued in 2010, which imposed moratorium on the opening of all undergraduate and graduate programs on nursing and four other courses effective school year 2011-2012.

The CHED cited the increase in the number of institutions offering these programs as one of the reasons for the moratorium, as well as the gradual decline in the performance of nursing education graduates, which indicates the worsening state of the program.

Tan said even before the Covid-19 pandemic, a global shortage of nurses was already projected.

This shortage, according to Tan, was also highlighted in a World Health Organization report calling for urgent investment in nursing as the Covid-19 pandemic puts need for nurses into sharp relief.

“The role of nurses in our health care system cannot be over emphasized, not only in delivering quality health care but as well as in achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). They make critical contributions to the achievement of national and global targets related to a range of health priorities, including universal health care, mental health and communicable and noncommunicable diseases, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety, and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care,” Tan said.

She further stressed that pre-Covid-19 pandemic data reveals that the world does not have a global nursing workforce commensurate with the universal health coverage and SDG targets.

“Given this backdrop and how it will potentially impact our health care system, I believe that now is the most opportune time for CHED to assess the relevance of CMO No. 32. In fact, this representation is urging the Commission on Higher Education to allow other higher educational institutions to open new nursing programs to enable us to produce more nurses,” Tan said.

Further citing the WHO report “State of the World’s Nursing 2020”, Tan said without action, there will be a shortfall of 4.6 million nurses worldwide by 2030.

In the Philippines, the projected shortfall of nurses is expected to be 249,843 by 2030, unless greater investment is made now to retain them in the Philippine health sector.

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