03 August 2007

Stopping Filipino Doctors

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III does not want Filipino doctors to leave the country anymore to seek better-paying jobs abroad.

Here are some of his interesting quotes:

  • "You don’t expect Indians and Cambodians to treat Filipinos. While we’re out there treating other people, the irony is we don’t have anyone to treat our own people."

  • "The government has the authority, the power, to close the exit doors."

  • Asked if preventing Filipino doctors from leaving the country would not violate their rights, Duque said: "I will give you this question: When do individual human rights end and national interest begin?"

[PDI, 3 Aug 2007]

Only better salaries and improved working conditions will end the migration of doctors abroad. If the government can promise and fulfill that, Filipino doctors will stay.

6 reactions:

rolly said...

The good doctor must be joking. While his attempt is laudable and his reasons valid, how can he close the doors for exiting doctors if he does not exercise dictatorial powers? Even presidents who hold the reins of sovereignty are frowned upon when they border on being dictators, and rightfully so. What the health secretary should do is come up with more motivational materials that would make young doctors stay in spite of the relatively low pay doctors here are earning.

may said...

this is a JOKE, right?

Sam said...

His suggestion can never happen. Although my dad's not a doctor, had not for his job (seaman) outside Phil, we would not be able to finish our college! In the end, its because of economic reason people are leaving..unless we can reach the status like those in the First World movement, people will always be other main exports :)

bayi said...

It is a joke!

The good doctor asks, "When do individual human rights end and national interest begin?"

The government holds the answer. Has there been a sincere effort to collect the taxes owed to the government? Has there been a truly concerted effort to tackle corruption? If all these have been done, there would be more money in the treasury to have better health program to retain the doctors, to improve the schools and the infrastructure. Why put the onus on the doctors? Why not the government's own efficiency?

Anonymous said...

That is ridiculous, and the whole concept of "brain drain" in the Philippines is also ridiculous, and they're just looking for a scapegoat. They're saying that all of the best professionals leave the Philippines, does that mean that everybody else is mediocre? I guess so, but is the Filipinos' mediocrity and lack of initiative to end corruption and poverty the fault of the professionals who leave the Philippines? of course not, the whole brain drain concept is just another form of Filipino crab mentality, and another scapegoat to blame for one's own incompetence.

Americans leave the United States all the time to work in other countries, do they call that brain drain?

One's success depends on one's drive to make it happen, even if all of the "best" professionals left the Philippines, if the rest of the population in the Philippines would work on their craft, than it wouldn't matter, because competence depends on one's self and one's drive, not on the best professionals leaving, that should have nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

In addition, here is a good article related to what I just said above:

By Geronimo L. Sy
Brain drain, brain gain

MIGRATION is generally regarded as bad because our good people, the talented ones, leave the country instead of building it. But the reason for this phenomenon is that our environment is not conducive to meritocracy and even punishes performance. What are rewarded are connections and the sipsips.

This is true to a large extent by personal and anecdotal experience. As a result, our countrymen’s gifts, their brainpower, skills, tenacity and work ethic are put at the service of a foreign country. Who are left behind are the less competent and less enterprising. No better proof of this can be found in the dismal state of our affairs. (Might not all the politicians decide to leave one day?) The other reason is the development of the countries that absorb migrant labor. The US, being the land of immigrants, is the prime example.

I have a different view of the matter. While I concede the existence of the external conditions that make life so difficult here, that is graft, pollution, politicking, crab mentality, etc., it does not necessarily follow that migration has resulted in a brain drain as passionately argued by nationalists. By this I mean that for every person who leaves, it creates a position or an opportunity for some others. We have enough creative people to fill in the gaps even if working abroad is their main motivation to work hard. There are a constant renewal of human resources development and motivation to inspire people. These do not happen regularly enough in many of our red-tape organizations.

What about experience and expertise? There will definitely be disruptions in the concerned sector or industry. This is evident in the field of nursing. The poaching of our teachers from top schools is a persistent and grave problem. It is, however, not a nationwide net loss that will bring our country to its knees. It is an avenue for us to channel our efforts to man the ramparts, so to speak. We can always choose to dig our heels in and strive to make up for “lost” numbers. Gauged from any point in our history, we are in the best stage to move forward.

Filipinos who go abroad and excel prove that we are at par with the world’s best. It is a testament to our minds, our hearts and our hands. It also shows that given the right framework, we can succeed here in the Philippines. They are our ambassadors at large, our modern missionaries and the people who minister to the world’s sick and elderly.

Granting that the reasons for migrating may be for personal and economic reasons, this does not change the fact that we are there for those who need us. This is not hopefully rationalizing our intentions or romanticizing our actions. It is simply to say that the basic reason why we leave and stay abroad legally or illegally is because the host countries recognize the need for workers and not for altruistic purposes either.

Overseas Filipinos, by reason of kinship and familial ties, continue to touch base with those back home. They raise the bar of our national consciousness day by day regardless of regionalism and they are the vanguard to push for democratic ideals and good governance the way they see it and live it abroad. In nonliberal places like the Middle East, lessons continue to be drawn like keeping the faith stronger.

We see the balikbayan who, after years of toiling and perfecting their craft overseas, come back home to roost and build their local communities. This is another species of the exchange process that we have been witnessing and experiencing for decades past—people here and there realizing that there is much potential here if only we set our minds to it. There is no better template for brain gain.

We are not closing our eyes to the separation of the family, to the alienation of the migrant Filipino, or the threat to our social ties. Neither are we trumpeting the lifesaving feature of foreign exchange remittances. Most importantly, we are not arguing for the abandonment of our homeland or for more justification for those who intend to leave.

Simply, the whole debate of brain drain needs to be reexamined and carefully thought over. We have unquestioningly accepted this to be true as it is in line with common thinking and ordinary mindset. Perhaps the equation is not really about losing brains but actually gaining them.

We Filipinos may yet have the last laugh.