Cong. Abayon, Your Nurse in Congress

YOUR NURSE IN CONGRESS. First, I congratulate the 4,326 new nurses who passed the nursing licensure examinations they took last June 3 and 4 at various testing centers nationwide. I also commend their parents, friends, classmates, and teachers. (https://goo.gl/rThNnj)

Special congratulations to the 50 passers who emerged as topnotchers and to their mentors and their respective alma mater. (https://goo.gl/oCGo9n)

Commendation is also in order for the six nursing colleges who have 50 or more examinees and had at least 80 percent passing percentage. This achievement means your institutions truly are a cut above the rest. (https://goo.gl/YefGYg)

A personal note of gratitude and pride I express for my alma mater, the Adventist University of the Philippines, which is one of the top 6 nursing schools in the June 2018 board exam, has a topnotcher ranked 4th, and a total of 45 passers.

To the 5,547 who did not pass this time around, it is not the end of the world. Do not lose hope for there will always be a next time and nothing beats perseverance at the end of the day.

My dear fellow nurses, as your colleague-representative in Congress, I am advocating for better health care services, policy, and programs.

I have also called upon the PRC and CHED to work together on finding solutions to lower the cost and improve the accessibility of continuing professional development (CPD) training by having state universities and colleges provide training at much lower cost than those of the private providers.

Some SUCs have training institutes and extension centers. A CHED memorandum or a Board Resolution by some SUCs would suffice for the provision of CPD training. Some SUCs have Open University units or modes. OU can also be one way to deliver or provide CPD training.

SCHOOL HEALTH AND SAFETY

I have also just filed a new bill, House Bill 7874, seeking the creation of the School Health and Safety Office in every public school, including SUCs, nationwide. The SHSO shall be manned by qualified, licensed, and certified personnel.

There are 13,396 secondary schools (including 5,965 senior high schools), 38,648 elementary schools, and 112 SUCs.

At the minimum of one nurse per school, passage of this law would mean at least 52,156 new jobs for nurses at our public schools, but the School Health and Safety bill provides for two nurses for schools with up to 3,000 students and three nurses for schools with more than 3,000 enrolled.

HB 7874 also requires the hiring of doctors, dentists, guidance counselors, psychologists, psychometricians, emergency medical technicians, security guards, and utility workers for the School Health and Safety Office of the public schools.

As of now, the DepEd has less than 2,000 school nurses nationwide and they are not assigned by school but by city and province across the various DepEd school division offices. 2,000 nurses is certainly not enough to attend to the health and nutrition of our more or less 27.7 million school children and teenagers under DepEd care.

By deploying many nurses to the public schools, a heavy burden will be lifted from the shoulders of our public school teachers because they have been carrying the workload that health care professionals should have.

With this bill, primary responsibility for the school canteen, school nutrition program, immunization campaigns, campus security, and many other related non-teaching roles and functions will be vested upon the School Health and Safety Office of each public school, including state universities and colleges and public technical-vocational schools.

School health, security, and safety manpower in our public schools is grossly inadequate. At the DepEd, the school nurse to student ratio they are following is 1:5000 and the allocation of the school nurse items is not by school, but by school division which means by province or by city. With this kind of policy, many schools have no school nurses on duty to take charge of the many school health and nutrition activities that riddle the school calendar every year.

The DepEd public schools have at least two million children who are of wasted or severely wasted nutritional status. Severe malnutrition among Filipino children is why there are school feeding programs.

There is also an oral health crisis afflicting millions of Filipino children. The 2006 National Oral Health Survey (NOHS) revealed that 97.1% of six-year-old children suffer from tooth decay. More than four out of every five children of this subgroup manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infection. In addition, 78.4% of twelve-year-old children suffer from dental caries and 49.7% of the same age group manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infections.

The Advisory Council for the Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities estimates that by Year 2020 there will be 2.23 million children aged 5 to 14 with disabilities or 19 percent of that age group.

In higher education, the Commission on Higher Education has guidelines on health, guidance/ counseling, and other services for students. However, in 2013, the Philippine Institute of Development Studies published a study on health care in private colleges and universities. That study discovered that back then, five years ago: (a) only 28 percent (generally the large schools) had a doctor, dentist, and nurse; (b) only 18 percent had a nurse only; and (c) only 10 percent had a doctor and dentist.

Few SUCs have a University Health Service like that of the University of the Philippines which UP scholars have access to medical check-ups and diagnostic testing.

In the state universities and colleges, security guards/watchmen are usually outsourced from security agencies. Utility workers have either contractual or casual items in the school organizational structure.

With the SHSO bill, we strive for equitable health care access for our students in public schools and safer schools with the provision of security guards, emergency medical technicians, and volunteer firefighters.

With all that said, I truly believe this bill will help uplift the youth and education sector, among others, of our country and help address the unemployment issue of nurse graduates our country is facing.

#SamasamaAangatTayo 🇵🇭

https://www.facebook.com/neilabayon7

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