The Philippines will let thousands of its healthcare workers, mostly nurses, take up jobs in the UK and Germany if the two countries agree to donate much-needed coronavirus vaccines.
That's according to Alice Visperas, director of the labour ministry's international affairs bureau, who said the country was open to lifting the cap on deploying its healthcare workers overseas in exchange for vaccines from the UK and Germany.
"We are considering the request to lift the deployment cap, subject to agreement," Visperas told Reuters, adding that the government will still limit the number of medical professionals leaving the country to 5,000 a year.
While the UK and Germany have inoculated a combined 23 million people, the Philippines has yet to start its campaign to immunise 70 million adults, or two-thirds of its 108 million people. It expects to receive its first batch of vaccines this week, donated by China.
The Philippines wants to secure 148 million doses of vaccines altogether.
The British embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment while calls to Germany's mission went unanswered.
Nurses are among the millions of Filipinos who work overseas, providing in excess of $30 billion a year in remittances vital to the country's economy.
In 2019, almost 17,000 Filipino nurses signed overseas work contracts, government data showed.
While Filipino nurses have fought to lift the deployment ban to escape poor working conditions and low pay at home, the workers-for-vaccine plan has not gone down well with some medical workers.
"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, told Reuters.