Philippines increases ceiling for health professionals going abroad


Filipino workers, including nurses applying to work in the UK, attend a conference at a review center for the International English Language Testing System or IELTS in Manila, the Philippines on April 2, 2019. Photo taken on 2 April 2019. REUTERS / Eloisa Lopez / File photo

MANILA, June 18 (Reuters) – The Philippines has increased the number of nurses and health workers allowed to travel abroad to 6,500 per year, a senior official said on Friday, amid high demand for its healthcare professionals.

The Philippines, one of the world’s largest sources of nurses, hit their annual cap of 5,000 health worker deployments late last month.

Those with contracts as of May 31 can take up jobs overseas, President Harry Roque’s spokesman said in a statement. This means that 1,500 more nurses and health workers can work abroad, according to the Ministry of Labor.

The labor minister said on Wednesday he would seek approval to allow the deployment of 5,000 additional healthcare workers overseas, but a group of nurses said there were many more in the hope to find better paying jobs abroad.

Health workers under government-to-government labor agreements, such as the one with the UK, are exempt from the new cap.

About 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas employment contracts in 2019, but the Philippines temporarily ended them in 2020, to consolidate their health sector as coronavirus hospitalizations rose sharply.

Philippine Nurses United general secretary Jocelyn Andamo said the extra 1,500 was frustrating.

“It is very unrealistic compared to the enormous need for nurses,” she said.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty

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