Philippines plans to double limit of health workers deployed overseas

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After lobbying from nursing groups, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said he would recommend that the national coronavirus task force on Thursday raise the cap.

Nurses are among the more than 10 million Filipinos who work and live abroad, with annual remittances of more than $ 30 billion – a key driver of the country’s consumer-driven economy.

“There are reasons to allow health workers to look for good jobs abroad,” Bello said at a press conference. “We will be careful not to run out of nurses and doctors.”

More than 200,000 nursing graduates have chosen to work in other industries because of low pay and benefits in the health care sector, Jocelyn Andamo, general secretary of Philippino Nurses United, told Reuters.

“This is a positive development, but I hope the deployment ban will be completely 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 5,000 cap was reached this month, according to data from the Nursing Group.

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 epidemics in Asia.

In 2019, nearly 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas employment contracts, according to government data.

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