Tokyo—Fresh from her successful official mission to Japan where she discussed human resource development issues with Japanese officials, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday urged high-income countries, Japan included, to invest in human resources development in healthcare as a response to the challenge of the WHO projection of 40 million new healthcare jobs to be created in these countries and to the 18 million shortage in healthcare workers in low- and lower middle-income countries by 2030.
“This is the only way for the global community to respond to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Baldoz said who, during her meeting with top Japanese officials, cited countries such as Germany and the UK—and even Japan—as having more demand for healthcare workers because of their aging populations.
In the same vein, Baldoz also said such investments in HRD in healthcare will address the shortages of countries, such as the Philippines, in healthcare workers, particularly in under-served areas, such as those remote rural, and sometimes, conflict-stricken communities.
“The HRD investments I urge rich countries to make will also contribute to global poverty-reduction efforts,” said Baldoz who was recently named commissioner of the UN High-Level Commission for Health Employment and Economic Growth, a UN body charged with proposing actions to guide the creation of health and social sector jobs as a means to advance inclusive economic growth.
To emphasize the importance and urgency of her call for such investments, Baldoz had proposed to the Japanese a technical cooperation program on education and training of Filipino nurses and caregivers using Japanese standards, especially on geriatric care leading to mutual recognition arrangements.
“We are already working out a similar technical cooperation program with Germany in support of the Germany-Philippines Triple Win Project under which Germany sources its healthcare worker needs from the Philippines, albeit in a current slow pace,” Baldoz said.
The technical cooperation program, to be worked out with labor, health, education authorities, and private sector hospitals and elderly care institutions, will involve the development of policies on ladderized national training certification for caregivers and careworkers; conduct of researches and studies on the German labor market; development of curriculum for geriatric care and elective German language training; and setting up of recognized German language centers in the Visayas and Mindanao.
She said HRD investments in healthcare should not only be in the establishment of modern facilities, but also in sharing best practices, such as that which is being done by Medical Corporation Eisei in Japan which employs five Filipinos—nurses Excelisis John Cadungog and Alcheryl G. Robillos; assistant nurse Ian Sheane V. Hubero; nurse-candidate Almon Chino A. Trinidad; and caregiver John Denmark T. Pineda—most of whom are from under-served areas in the Visayas and Mindanao—under the PH-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.
The labor and employment chief while in Tokyo visited Eisei Hospital, owned and operated by Medical Corporation Eisei, which also owns clinics, elderly care facilities, nursing home care, and nursing stations. According to Baldoz, the company provides a model of a first world employer that invests in its migrant workers through training and support so they could easily adapt to a foreign working environment and culture.
She said that in Japan, she had met two Japanese employers who had warmed up to her proposal and are waiting for the passage of a law that will enhance the monitoring of the Technical Intern Training Program and could include the hiring of careworkers/caregivers under the TITP instead of under the JPEPA.
“I am heartened by the reception to this proposal. If this attracts a critical mass of positive response from developed countries and if they decide to source their healthcare workers from the Philippines, there is no reason why we could not position our country as the health care workers’ capital of the world, similar to our hard-earned reputation as the global maritime manning capital. Our healthcare workers’ caring and nurturing heart and their meticulous hygiene and sanitation are factors that put them in a competitive advantage,” Baldoz said.
“Investing in HRD involving the education and training of healthcare workers using global standards will answer the need for quantity, quality, and sustainability of supply of healthcare workers and also address the required huge investments for universal health coverage. It will definitely lead to the right kind of workers with the right kind of skills in the right workplaces,” she finally said.