Philippines health workers protest as COVID-19 strains hospitals

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Philippines health workers has protested to demand an end to what they called government neglect and unpaid benefits, as pressure builds at hospitals fighting coronavirus epidemics.

Protesters gathered at the Department of Health (DOH) and held placards demanding their risk allowances and hazard pay, and the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

The Philippines passed the 2 million mark in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a fifth of those recorded in the past month alone.

Medical staff are overwhelmed and 103 have died during the pandemic, among some 33,500 coronavirus fatalities overall.

President of the Alliance of Health Workers, Robert Mendoza said, “It is sad that many of us have died, many of us became sick, and many have resigned or opted to retire early, yet we are still kneeling before the DOH to give us our benefits.”

President Rodrigo Duterte gave health and budget ministries 10 days from Aug. 21 to pay health workers, following nurses’ threats to resign and unions warning of strikes.

“The government promised it will give the benefits today but up to now, it has not. I pity us because we are the ones begging.”

The Philippine Nurses Association held its own protest virtually to demand better working conditions and more staff at hospitals, nearly a third of which have reached critical levels of over 85% occupancy.

However, the highly transmissible Delta variant has sees deaths climb and cases soar, with a daily record 22,366 cases in the Philippines on Monday.

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Kamila/Reuters

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