Bello said the spread of the new coronavirus was slowing in the country and conditions were improving, so the government could afford to let its healthcare workers go.
The Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, but the daily number of cases and death rates have fallen.
To ensure the Philippines has enough medical professionals to continue fighting the pandemic at home, only 5,000 healthcare workers will be allowed to leave each year, Bello said.
“We are only starting with a cap of 5,000 so we won’t miss [of medical workers], but that could possibly increase, ”Bello said.
Last year, nearly 17,000 nurses signed overseas employment contracts, according to data from the Philippine Higher Education and Administration Commission for overseas employment.
In April, the government banned nurses, doctors and other medical workers from leaving, saying they were needed to tackle the coronavirus crisis at home.
Thousands of health workers, who call themselves “prison nurses,” have called on the government to let them take jobs overseas, Reuters reported in September. Nurses say they feel underpaid, underrated and unprotected in the Philippines.
While the lifting of the travel ban was a “welcome development,” Maristela Abenojar, president of Filipino Nurses United, challenged the government to honor its pledge to give nurses better wages and benefits if it does. wish they would stay.
Filipino health workers are on the front lines of the pandemic in hospitals across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, as well as at home.
New coronavirus cases in the Philippines have remained below 2,000 since November 10, while deaths, which totaled 8,025 as of November 20, accounted for just 1.93% of the country’s 415,067 cases.
The occupancy rate of hospital beds has also fallen from critical levels, and the government has gradually relaxed quarantine restrictions to revive the economy hit by the coronavirus.