After the calls of some lawmakers on the lifting of overseas deployment ban on health workers have fallen on deaf ears, Senator Nancy Binay took it to another level by wanting it investigated in the upper chamber of Congress.
Binay has called for an inquiry in aid of legislation into the temporary deployment ban on healthcare workers imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and IATF.
“Nais nating malaman kung ano ang naging guidance ng POEA at IATF sa kanilang policy on the deployment ban. Yung latest incident na inoff-load sa eroplano ang ilang UK-bound nurses only shows that the policy is disjointed and conflicting, and its implementation is prone to lapses,” Binay said.
Binay’s Senate Resolution No. 514 comes after Filipino nurses bound for the United Kingdom were reportedly offloaded by the Bureau of Immigration on Sunday despite their supposed exemption from the ban.
The Philippine Nurses Association also appealed to government to allow 600 nurses to leave the country.
The senator had earlier urged the lifting of the deployment ban, insisting that the government has no right to prevent healthcare workers from working abroad to provide for the needs of their families.
“We must not hold hostage our healthcare workers’ desire for a better life for their families. Hindi natin dapat ipilit na isakripisyo nila ang pangarap para lang isugal ang buhay nila sa sistemang walang sapat na proteksyon para sa kanila,” Binay said.
The IATF suspended on August the deployment of medical and allied health professionals in an effort to augment the number of frontline workers responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, following an earlier order by the POEA in April.
The Department of Health projected that the country would need 16,500 medical frontliners. Only 10,468 slots have been approved, however, with 7,850 having been filled up.
Binay, however, argued that there would still be enough healthcare workers if the ban were lifted.
She cited 2017 data from DOH showing that there are over 750,000 licensed medical professionals in the country, including dentists, med technologists, pharmacists, physicians, and midwives.
Of this number, only 204,437 are active in the health sector, meaning more than 500,000 licensed medical professionals are not practicing their craft.
“Hindi pangingibang-bansa ng healthcare workers ang kalaban. Unless we improve working conditions, offer better-paying and longer contracts, we won’t be able to attract our healthcare workers to work here,” said Binay.