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More jobs abroad for RP nurses under Asean accord

More jobs abroad for RP nurses under Asean accord

By ERNESTO HERRERA

Filipino nurses can look forward to greater overseas employment opportunities in the months ahead with the recent affirmation of a new agreement liberalizing the trade in professional nursing services within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Filipino nurses can look forward to greater overseas employment opportunities in the months ahead with the recent affirmation of a new agreement liberalizing the trade in professional nursing services within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Our nurses can now count on easier access to the lucrative job markets of Asean members since the Mutual Recognition Agreement on Nursing Services has been affirmed in the 12th Asean Summit and would soon be implemented by member-countries.

RP nurses in Singapore

The covenant essentially means that Philippine-licensed nurses will be automatically recognized as nurse practitioners by other Asean members. Asean groups 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The MRA would expedite the recognition of the qualifications of Filipino nurses, and thus, considerably ease their recruitment and deployment within Asean. This means our nurses do not have to take the national nurse licensure examinations of other Asean members to be able to practice in those countries.

Right now, for instance, Singapore recognizes nurses from Malaysia and Brunei, but not recognize nurses from the Philippines. For a Filipino nurse to practice in Singapore, he or she has to pass the city-state’s nurse eligibility test, similar to the US National Council (of State Boards of Nursing) Licensure Examinations for Registered Nurse, or NCLEX-RN. At present, most of the 4,000 foreign nurses working in Singapore are Filipinos. They all had to pass Singapore’s nurse licensure test.

The Philippines will be the MRA’s biggest beneficiary, since we are now the world’s biggest exporter of nurses. Since the MRA is mutual, the Philippines would also automatically recognize nurses from other Asean members.

The MRA, which is part of a Free-Trade Agreement initiative, had been in the works for years, and was finally signed by the economic ministers of the 10 Asean member-countries on December 8 in Cebu City, and affirmed by Asean leaders attending the 12th Summit also in Cebu City the other day.

The Philippines negotiated with Japan for a similar MRA for health professionals. Japan is a huge potential market for our nurses, physical therapists and caregivers. Japan’s population is aging faster than that of any other country. The land of the rising sun would soon have only two able-bodied workers for each retiree. Our government was right in including an MRA for health services in the proposed Japan-Philippines Free-Trade Agreement, which became controversial because of the toxic waste dumping issue.

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