DAVAO CITY — Officials of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the biggest government hospital in Mindanao, said hospitals and hemodialysis (HD) centers in Davao City are facing a “brain drain” of nurses amid the rising number of patients with kidney-related diseases.

Trisha V. Manalaysay, adult nephrologist at SPMC, said while there has been an increasing number of private HD centers offering services, there seems to be not enough nurses on the job market.

“There are many patients they cannot cater to, and many more in need,” Ms. Manalaysay, speaking in Filipino, said at a media forum earlier this week.

“The number is already alarming. In Davao City… not everyone can be accommodated due to lack of manpower and cost,” she added.

Aileen L. Herceda, also an adult nephrologist at SPMC, said the shortage of nurses is due to hiring elsewhere in the country and overseas.

“We have a scarcity of nurses already. We really lack nurses to address the problem of kidney-related diseases,” she said in the same forum.

She said that each hospital and HD center on average perform up to 6,000 weekly dialysis sessions.

Some patients with an extreme kidney-related disease require as many as three sessions a day.

Ms. Herceda said one of the measures being taken is encouraging patients to adopt peritoneal dialysis, which can be done by the patient without assistance from a medical professional.

“Peritoneal dialysis is free as long as the patient has PhilHealth (government health insurance coverage). Peritoneal is also being used for those who don’t have access to HD centers, especially in far-flung areas,”she said.

SPMC Nephrology Section Chairman Franklin Guillano said the Department of Health (DoH) lists kidney disease as among the top 10 causes of mortality in the Philippines.

The SPMC currently provides 24/7 dialysis services and the construction of a five-level kidney center within the hospital complex is ongoing. — Maya M. Padillo