Philippines offers nurses to UK in return for Covid vaccines

Philippines offers nurses to UK in return for Covid vaccines

The Philippines has offered to allow thousands of nurses and other health workers to work in the UK and Germany if the European nations send it much-needed Covid-19 vaccines.

Manila, which is dealing with one of the highest coronavirus case-loads in Asia, currently limits the number of medical workers leaving the country to 5,000 per year, though has relaxed a total ban.

Alice Visperas, director of the labour ministry’s international affairs bureau, said the Philippines was open to lifting the cap if Britain and Germany agreed to send vaccines, which the government would use to inoculate outbound workers and hundreds of thousands of Filipino repatriates.

The Independent has contacted the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

Nurses are among the millions of Filipinos who work overseas, providing in excess of $30bn (£21.3bn) a year in remittances vital to the country’s economy. “We are considering the request to lift the deployment cap, subject to agreement,” Ms Visperas said.

In 2019, almost 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas work contracts, official data showed.

Although they have fought to lift the deployment ban to escape poor working conditions and low pay at home, the government’s exchange scheme has proven unpopular with some.

“We are disgusted on how nurses and healthcare workers are being treated by the government as commodities or export products,” Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United, said.

While Britain and Germany have vaccinated a combined 23 million people, the Philippines has yet to begin its campaign to immunise 70 million adults, or two-thirds of its 108 million-strong population. It expects to receive its first batch of vaccines this week, donated by China.

Manila wants to secure 148 million doses of vaccines altogether.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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