Iraq eyes hiring of up to 2,000 Pinoy doctors, nurses

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 13 2012 07:35 AM | Updated as of Nov 13 2012 06:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the existing deployment ban, the Iraqi government wants to hire Filipino doctors and nurses.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said yesterday that Iraqi Ambassador Wadee Al-Batti had paid him a visit, asking permission to hire some 1,000 to 2,000 Filipino nurses and doctors.

“The opportunity of our health workers to go abroad is really big because the worldwide demand is tremendous,“ Ona said.

He said Al-Batti expressed the intention of the Iraqi government to get the services of these health professionals.

“They want as many nurses as we can give them. But the problem is the hostile situation there. There is a ban there and the only thing we want also to be sure of is the safety of workers. We want to make sure that they are safe,” he said.

Except for the Kurdistan region, a deployment ban is in effect in Iraq.

The ban was imposed following the kidnapping by Iraqi rebels of Filipino worker Angelo de la Cruz in July 2004.

The kidnappers had demanded the pullout of Philippine troops from Iraq.

The government yielded to the demand, which resulted in the safe release of De la Cruz on July 21, 2004.

Meanwhile, Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, said there are also demands for healthcare professionals in India.

“For the past two years, every time there is a meeting of all hospitals all over Asia, they (Indian hospital officials) would ask me for 200,000 nurses and other healthcare workers,” Jimenez said, adding that during a recent seminar on Hospital Management Asia in Vietnam, he was again reminded of this.

Aside from doctors and nurses, medical technologists, radio technicians and pulmonology physical therapists are also in demand in India.

Jimenez said he had already informed nurses’ organizations of the job opportunities but there were no takers.

Ona said the government is doing its best to improve the benefits and working conditions of healthcare workers so they would not be lured into working in foreign hospitals.

“We really have to make our health system robust and to do that, our Philippine Health Insurance System must also be robust,” the health chief said.