Philippine labour secretary mulls deployment of more nurses overseas


The Philippines’ labour secretary said he will ask for government approval to allow more nurses and healthcare workers to go abroad this year after a nurses group lobbied for additional deployment.

The Philippines is one of the biggest sources of nurses in the world.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will recommend to the COVID-19 task force on Thursday  (June 17) that the cap set by the government this year after the pandemic outbreak be raised, to double the annual limit of 5,000 deployments of health workers.

“There are reasons to allow health workers to seek good jobs abroad,” Bello told a news conference on Wednesday. “We will make sure we will not run out of nurses and doctors.”

Nurses are among the more than 10 million Filipinos who work and live overseas, with annual remittances in excess of US$30 billion a key driver for the country’s consumption-driven economy.

More than 200,000 nursing graduates have chosen to work in other industries because of meagre compensation and benefits in the healthcare sector, Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United, told Reuters.

“This is a positive development, but hopefully the deployment ban will be fully lifted,” Andamo said.

At least 4,000 nurses intending to work in Germany, the Middle East, Scotland, Japan, Singapore, the United States and Australia were barred from leaving after the cap of 5,000 was reached this month, data from the nurses group show.

President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a deployment ban on healthcare workers in November, but limited the number allowed to leave to ensure there would be enough at home as the Philippines battles one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia.

In 2019, almost 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas work contracts, government data showed. (Source: CNA)