MANILA— Nurses will fill most of the new slots for health care workers that will be allowed to be deployed abroad, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration announced Tuesday.
The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 raised last week the annual cap on the deployment of nurses and other health care workers who want to work abroad to 6,500 from 5,000.
POEA administrator Bernard Olalia said in a public briefing Tuesday that 99% of the 1,500 additional slots will go to nurses.
He clarified that the 1,500 slots will be given to medical workers who have already secured employment contracts abroad and work visas.
"Exempted naman po sa cap 'yung mga government-to-government deployment natin, at saka 'yung mga balik manggagawa natin. Ang tanging mabibilang sa cap 'yung mga natitirang agency hires at 'yung mga direct hires," Olalia said.
(Government-to-government deployment and those under the balik-manggagawa is exempted from the cap. Those counted are the agency hires and direct hires.)
The POEA earlier this month suspended overseas deployment of newly-hired medical professionals after the 5,000 annual ceiling was breached on June 1.
Olalia sought understanding from health workers looking for better opportunities abroad, saying the government needs to cope with the needs of the Philippine health care system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the Philippines lacks around 120,000 nurses for its own population, based on the sustainable development goal indicator that there should be at least 27 nurses for every 100,000 people.
Olalia said the country only has around 183,000 nurses for the country's 110-million population.
"Kinakailangan po nating tingnan, balansehin ang pangangailangan natin sa sariling bansa, sa health care natin, at 'yung opportunity na ibibigay natin sa nurses," he said.
(We have to look at and balance the needs of the country and opportunities we will give our nurses.)
The Philippines, which is one of the world's biggest sources of health care workers, has deployed some 10 million Filipinos abroad, receiving in excess of $30 billion in annual remittances, a key driver for the country's consumption-driven economy.
Filipino nurses earn more abroad than in the country.