Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed Philippine Nursing Practice Act of 2022

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed Philippine Nursing Practice Act of 2022

More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the country at large witnessed how essential the health sector is in responding to crises and buoying our national economy. Nurses, in particular, faced multitudes of occupational risks due to lack of appropriate protective gear and equipment, shortage of staff members, and even discrimination, among many others.

Their resolute service to the Filipino people is deserving, not only of recognition, but amplification of their dignity and worth through government protection and action.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the timely proposal of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1447 or the Philippine Nursing Practice Act of 2022. The proposed legislation introduces a new provision on the Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), an expanded and more collaborative role for qualified nurses to allow more efficient access to Universal Health Care for all Filipinos.

According to the bill, APNs refer to nurses who, aside from being board passers, have acquired a “substantial level of theoretical knowledge and decision-making skill in a specialty area of nursing practice and demonstrated proficiency in clinical utilization of such knowledge” from a recognized higher educational institution. The bill also authorises the practice of “Agreed Upon Based Care” in which APNs—through mutual agreement with and approval by the primary physician in charge—are permitted to conduct patient care through teleconsultation or other means of communication during emergency circumstances such as unavailability of a physician or lack of a physician due to the inaccessibility of an area.

The indisputable contributions of nurses in the country and abroad merits urgent and meaningful solutions that address their long-standing issues. We echo the statement of the bill’s proponent Senator Francis Tolentino. He said, “With nurses comprising the great majority of the healthcare industry, both in the institutional and community levels, utmost priority should be given to their needs in order to boost the morale of our Filipino nurses.”

CHR also acknowledges the recognition from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on the importance of passing such measure to further advance the nursing profession. During the centennial celebration of the founding of the Philippine Nurses Association in September 2022, President Marcos Jr assured “that my office is always open for meaningful dialogue to address the issues concerning our nurses and allied health care professionals” and that he has “taken special note of the clamor to address the issues in the nursing profession by the passage of the new Philippine Nursing Practice Act.”

CHR hopes for the swift advancement of SB 1447. It will provide measures to institute comprehensive nursing practice standards; protect decent working conditions; and promote the professional growth of nurses. We also note its provision of a Philippine Professional Nursing Roadmap, which would establish a long-term strategy for the Philippine nursing industry.

Alongside these, CHR also joins the call for the immediate release of health workers’ hazard pay and bonuses for their response during the pandemic. As part of the right to health, the government must also uphold conditions that would ensure available, accessible, and good quality public health and medical facilities, goods, and services for all. Putting primacy to the concerns of our healthcare workers lays a good foundation for a robust healthcare system for all Filipinos. ###