Medical groups are urging President-elect Bongbong Marcos to prioritize the health sector and increase the salaries of medical workers to prevent them from leaving the country.,Melvin Miranda, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), said his group’s request was for Marcos to push for measures that would increase the salaries of nurses and fast-track the release of their Covid-19 compensation packages amid the soaring prices of goods in the country.,“One of the biggest concerns of our group is the compensation or benefits for Filipino nurses,” he told the Daily Tribune in an interview.,“Many of our nurses are now working abroad because of the big disparity of salaries between local and foreign hospitals,” said Miranda.,Registered nurses, who have been at the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic for three years, are earning a monthly average of P13,500 in government hospitals.,The average salary of nurses in private hospitals only stands at P10,000 per month.,Nurses get a monthly average salary of almost P200,000 in the United States, around P116,000 in the United Kingdom, and at least P167,000 in Canada.,About 40 percent of private hospital nurses resigned last year, either to work in state-run facilities or abroad for bigger compensation, based on the estimates of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi).,Private hospitals have been short-staffed because of several nurses who quit, PHAPi president Dr. Jose Rene De Grano told the Tribune in another interview.,“We lack nurses even at the start of the pandemic even if there are new nurses and board passers,” he said. “Other countries wanted Filipino nurses because aside from their clinical experience and competence, they are eloquent and hospitable.”,The PNA said the Philippine Nursing Act to the standard would resolve the “perennial problem” concerning the salaries and benefits of nurses in both private and public hospitals.,In the meantime, Miranda and De Grano wanted the administration to fast-track the release of benefits like hazard pay and other risk allowances promised to nurses attending to Covid-19 patients.,Some nurses have yet to receive theirs even if private hospitals have submitted their requirements, according to De Grano., ,Pandemic plan, UHC,Medical professionals wanted Marcos to chart a comprehensive plan to get the Philippines out of a pandemic rut amid fears of an infection surge following the detection of more transmissible Covid-19 variants.,Experts from the health department said they observed an uptick in infections in recent weeks following the detection of more transmissible Covid-19 variants.,The health sector is also counting on the Marcos administration for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act which seeks to expand people’s access to health services.,“Of course, we expect the next administration to fix PhilHealth and to properly implement the Universal Health Care Act while helping private hospitals,” De Grano said.,Public health advocate Dr. Anthony Leachon, a former adviser to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the Marcos administration should appoint the “right men” who will take the helm of the health department, PhilHealth, and other agencies to push through with the plan.,“We need the right men in government offices,” he said.,“We need officials with an impeccable record of honesty and integrity, competence, vision, moral courage, and are inspiring to their subordinates,” Leachon added.,As of posting time, Marcos has yet to name his Secretary of Health.,— With a report from MJ BLANCAFLOR