Philippines plans to double its limit on health care workers deployed overseas

After lobbying by nursing groups, Labor Minister Silvestre Bello said he would become the national Coronavirus Task force on Thursday that the ceiling will be raised.

Nurses are among the more than 10 million Filipinos who work and live overseas, with over $ 30 billion in remittances annually – a major engine of the country’s consumer-driven economy.

“There are reasons to allow health workers to look for good jobs overseas,” Bello said at a press conference. “We’ll make sure we don’t run out of nurses and doctors.”

More than 200,000 nursing graduates have moved to other industries because of meager pay and benefits in the health sector, Jocelyn Andamo, general secretary of Filipino Nurses United, told Reuters.

“It’s a positive development, but hopefully the ban will be lifted completely,” said Andamo.

At least 4,000 nurses who wanted to work in Germany, the Middle East, Scotland, Japan, Singapore, the United States and Australia were banned from leaving the country after hitting the 5,000 cap this month, data from the nursing group shows.

President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a ban on medical personnel in November but limited the number of people allowed to leave the country to ensure there was enough home while the Philippines battles one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia.

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

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