Atlanta, United States (CNN) – The Philippines has prevented medical workers from leaving for work in other countries, coinciding with Manila’s fight against the emerging Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.
The Philippine Labor Secretary signed a decision dated April 2. Doctors, nurses, microbiologists, medical technicians, laboratory workers and operators of medical equipment and engineers are prohibited from working abroad, while the country is in an emergency due to the epidemic.
The decision was posted on the website of the Overseas Employment Agency of the Philippines.
The decision says the Philippines annually sends 13,000 medical workers abroad, but it faces an estimated deficiency of 290,000 health workers inside.
The medical professions are one of the most profitable professions for Filipino immigrants known as foreign workers abroad.
The Philippine Department of Labor notes that the average salary of a nurse within the country is less than $ 200 a month (9,757 Philippine pesos per month), while they earn much more in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
In 2017, a report by the University of California, San Francisco, reported that more than 17% of registered nurses are from the Philippines.
In 2019, a British government report said there were more than 18,000 Filipinos working for the National Health Service.
But the Philippine government’s decision provoked negative reactions, gathering an online petition to sign 10,000 people, to protest the lost economic opportunity of Filipino nurses.
The petition requests a reassessment of the ban, and says that the $ 10 per day volunteer compensation (500 PHP per day) is not sufficient to compensate them for wages abroad.
This news also caused friction within the Philippine government. The Philippine Foreign Minister, Teddy Luxen, responded in a rude response, expressing his dismay that the country is not helping them and they must flee the Philippines to a country that “appreciates them”.