MANILA – Health workers with existing contracts as of March 8 will be allowed to leave the country for work abroad, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said on Tuesday.
In a virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the task force adopted a resolution relaxing the deployment ban on health workers.
“All medical and allied health care professionals with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020, shall be allowed for deployment abroad,” Nograles said.
Other health workers who do not have signed contracts as of March 8 will still be covered by the deployment ban of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Health workers who will leave for abroad will need to execute a declaration signifying they know the risks involved in their departure.
The IATF reviewed the temporary deployment ban after nurses of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service were barred from catching their flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. strongly opposed the deployment ban, saying it violated the Constitution.
Nograles said this development is a “win-win” solution that resolves the need for more health workers amid the health crisis and their right to work abroad.
Nograles said the Department of Health (DOH) was directed to facilitate the emergency hiring of additional health workers to assist in the local health care system amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a speech late Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has no objection to Filipino nurses and other health workers returning to their jobs abroad.
Duterte also expressed concern that the country might run out of medical professionals amid the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths.
As of Monday, there were 4,932 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 315 deaths.
Globally, there are at least 1.8 million confirmed cases and 116,000 fatalities.
Limited practice of medical graduates
Nograles said the IATF has also adopted a resolution on giving special authorization for the limited practice of Filipino medical graduates.
“The Interim Guidelines for the Granting of Special Authorization for the Limited Practice of Medical Graduates as presented by the DOH is hereby adopted,” he said.
However, Nograles said special authorizations should only be issued “as a last resort.”
He also noted that any authorization would only be effective for the duration of the state of public health emergency in the Philippines unless earlier withdrawn.
Earlier, Senator Francis Tolentino appealed to the government to allow medical graduates to render service in public hospitals even without a license to help in the fight against Covid-19.
The DOH earlier called for volunteer health workers as it sets up the referral hospitals for the Covid-19 cases. (PNA)