Philippine Journal of Surgical Specialties Vol. 79, No. 1, January-June 2024, pp 1-19

National Surgical and Anesthesia Human Health Resource Study of 2020

Author(s): Rodney B. Dofitas, MD, FPCS, FPSGS and Joy Grace G. Jerusalem, MD, FPCS, FPSGS

This cross-sectional study, sponsored by the World Surgical Foundation (WSF) and the Philippine College of Surgeons Foundation (PCSF), received exemption from review by the Single Joint Research Ethics Board (SJREB) of the Department of Health. An online survey was distributed to surgeons and anesthesiologists across the Philippines from July 1 to December 31, 2020. Active practitioners in relevant specialties were eligible, excluding retirees. Procedures adhered to ICH-GCP principles, National Ethical Guidelines, and the Data Privacy Act. Additional data, sourced from various outlets, was consolidated, verified and subsequently entered into an electronic data sheet (Google Sheets, Google LLC, Palo Alto CA) to extract descriptive statistics of the surgical and anesthesia workforce at the national and regional levels.

Analysis of the data indicates male dominance with a noticeable trend of increasing female participation in surgical training programs, while anesthesiologist gender distribution showed a female preponderance. Maldistribution in manpower persists, influenced by factors such as training programs, medical education, and the availability of secondary and tertiary hospitals, and other socio-economic conditions in the country. The study reveals regional variations in the distribution of surgeons and anesthesiologists in the Philippines, with a notable concentration in urban centers, the highest being in Luzon, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR)

The study highlights gender disparities and regional variations in the distribution of surgeons and anesthesiologists in the Philippines, with a significant concentration in Luzon, particularly “To advocate for the provision of surgical care for the many, rather than the few.” This philosophy was summarized into a catchphrase “Health for all,” a health view associated with Halfdan T. Mahler, former DirectorGeneral of the World Health Organization.1 The successful provision of healthcare services is dependent on the interplay of a number of factors. The most important of these are physical and human resources and a planned health system involving government and non-government institutions. Physical resources pertain to the capital stock and investments, infrastructure, medical equipment, and healthcare information technology; while human resources include the healthcare workers, the workforce density, professional mobility and training. The Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS) last published a National Surgical Manpower Study in 2005.2 In 2020, the PCS, in collaboration with the Philippine Society of Anesthesiologists (PSA) and both local and national government units, had taken on the task to in the National Capital Region (NCR). Disparities in subspecialty distribution are exacerbated by healthcare education discrepancies and inadequate healthcare infrastructure especially in rural areas. Addressing these challenges requires focused efforts on expanding training programs, recruiting specialists, and ensuring equitable access to surgical care nationwide. Establishing a comprehensive surgical workforce database is essential for informed policymaking, monitoring workforce distribution, and assess service quality to enhance access to surgical services

Key words: Workforce, Health Resources, General Surgery, Anesthesiology