NKTI health workers protest the ‘gross negligence’ of Government in COVID-19 response

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers held a silent protest this Saturday, calling for the safety and protection of healthcare workers from COVID-19.

The statement on their official Facebook page explains that the workers were forced to call for a more sufficient response from management and the Philippine government as they face “appalling health and working conditions.”

PRESS RELEASE July 25, 2020 REFERENCES: Mr. Edwin Pacheco, President, National Kidney and Transplant Institute…

Posted by Alliance of Health Workers – AHW National on Friday, July 24, 2020

(UP Experts Predict 130,000 COVID-19 Cases by August)

“Before the 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte, health workers from National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) hold a silent protest today to demand for their safety and protection from deadly coronavirus disease,” the statement begins.

It continues: “The number of COVID-19 infection among health workers in NKTI is rapidly increasing. This is due to gross negligence by the management, DOH, and government authorities to ensure our protection and safety in the midst of our fight against this virulent disease.”

Based on NKTI data, there are 174 health workers infected with the COVID-19 virus. The statement attributes the high number of infections to infection prevention and control measures and quarantine protocols being improperly observed or implemented. They also underscore that hospital workers are not given free swab tests and are instead made to pay for them.

Another problem is the high rate of health workers resigning from their posts due to the working conditions. From March to June 2020 a total of 65 health workers resigned while 8 retired from services.

“NKTI has been experiencing understaffing for a long time but it is getting worse now because many have resigned. Many of our fellow health workers are experiencing over fatigue due to excessive long hours of work, demoralization, psychological distress, stigma, and fear of becoming infected,” said Mr. Edwin Pacheco, President, National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers (NKTIEA-AHW).

They also called for better treatment of the 242 contractual health care workers of NKTI, some of which are doctors. These workers are unable to enjoy hazard pay, overtime pay, and sick leaves.

“We are anxious with our current situation especially to our fellow contractual health workers, our fight against COVID-19 is very risky and yet our fellow contractual health workers don’t have just benefits, additional compensation and lately their salaries are always delayed,” stated Mr. Pacheco.

Among the demands of NTKI workers include free and regular swab testing for all health workers, additional hiring of health workers, regularization of contractual health workers, and fairer hazard pay, among others.

“We lay down our lives to save the lives of our fellow countrymen. We, therefore, urge decision-makers in government to heed our calls and address our needs in these trying times because like them, we also have families who depend on us to live a dignified life,” ended Mr. Edwin Pacheco.

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