PHILIPPINE NURSES AND MIDWIVES AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By: Cynette Danielle F. Caseres (Team PyutSURE RNs)
March 28, 2022
The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the way medical practitioners in the Philippines work, both at home and overseas. The Philippines is a major provider of nurses who are sent to work in other countries. Prior to the pandemic, over 17,000 Filipino nurses left the nation to work abroad in 2019. Over 193,000 Filipino-trained nurses work in other countries, accounting for 85 percent of all nurses in the Philippines. However, the outbreak has thrown medical worker migratory patterns into chaos. Despite the fact that the epidemic caused unprecedented global demand for medical personnel, the Philippine government tightened labor restrictions as a result of the crisis at home.
In this changing environment, healthcare organizations seeking to hire Filipino medical workers must assess current restrictions and consider alternative labor markets in ASEAN.
INTERNATIONAL DEMAND FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL IS INCREASING
The need for medical personnel from the Philippines predates the epidemic, but it has become increasingly critical since the virus struck, putting great strain on healthcare institutions. Germany, for example, sought 15,000 medical personnel from the Philippines in early 2021, while a research published in 2020 predicted that the UK will need over 50,000 additional nurses over the next four years.
Prior to the pandemic, the government actively encouraged healthcare personnel to work in other countries, as many of them remit a large percentage of their salary to their family in the Philippines.
Cash remittances from roughly 10 million overseas Filipino workers exceeded $30 billion in 2020, accounting for about 10% of the country’s GDP. Despite the fact that the pandemic has forced the repatriation of almost 400,000 Filipino workers.
Considering the Philippines’ history of sending medical personnel abroad, the Philippine government stopped nurses from working abroad in April 2020 due to a healthcare crisis at home. In November 2020, the government repealed the restriction, although only 5,000 healthcare workers were allowed to leave each year.
Surprisingly, the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment stated that in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine donations, it would be willing to waive the 5,000-person healthcare restriction. The 5,000-person cap remains in force, notwithstanding the government’s determination to be flexible with its limitations on medical worker travel.