MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, November 24, said that the cap on health care workers allowed to leave the country may be lifted once a vaccine against the novel coronavirus becomes available.
“The 5,000 (cap) is just an initial (figure). If that is completed in the second quarter and if there is a vaccine, it may be scrapped altogether,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said “We are just making sure that we won’t run out of nurses, nursing assistants, and nursing aides with clinical experience. If we run out of people with clinical experience, who would take care of us if we get sick?” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently ended the deployment ban on the country’s health care workers, following the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease.
According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, only 5,000 health care workers will be allowed to leave every year to ensure that the Philippines will have enough medical professionals left fighting against COVID-19.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), for its part, noted that several countries are ready to accept Filipino healthcare workers after the lifting of the travel ban.
“The top destinations for our health care workers especially nurses, number one is the Middle East, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), followed by Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates (UAE),” POEA chief Bernard Olalia said.
He also said that Europe and North America are ready to provide job opportunities for Filipino nurses.
“In many nations around the world, our nurses are number one, preferred choice,” said Olalia.
In April, the Philippines temporarily suspended the deployment of health care professionals abroad to guarantee that the country itself has a sufficient number of medical front-liners.
The deployment ban was later revised to cover only the health care workers with new contracts, allowing nurses and other health care workers with existing contracts to return to their jobs abroad.
In October, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) announced newly-hired Filipino health care workers with signed contracts as of August 31, 2020 can leave the country to work overseas.
According to the agency, the cut-off date was extended from March 8 to August 31 upon the recommendation of the IATF.