On Wednesday, the Philippines’ Labor Minister announced that he will seek government clearance to send 5,000 extra healthcare workers abroad, more than doubling the annual maximum in a country where nurses are in short supply.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said he will recommend raising the cap to the coronavirus task team on Thursday, following nurse lobbying.
Nurses are among the more than 10 million Filipinos who work and reside in other countries, with yearly remittances of more than $30 billion a major source of revenue for the country’s consumer-driven economy.
According to data from the nurses group, at least 4,000 nurses wanting to work in Germany, the Middle East, Scotland, Japan, Singapore, the United States, and Australia were banned from departing when the quota of 5,000 was reached this month.
In November, President Rodrigo Duterte removed a deployment prohibition on healthcare professionals, but only for a limited time, to ensure that there would be enough at home while the Philippines battled one of Asia’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to government data, about 17,000 Filipino nurses signed abroad employment contracts in 2019.