Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 50 January 26 - February 1, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
of two parts)
of two parts)
A surge in the demand for caregivers and nurses abroad is triggering a new round of out-migration of Filipino professionals. A different kind of ‘brain drain’ is taking place, however. While the country is increasingly losing its highly-skilled nationals, the new migrant professionals end up taking low-end jobs and are deskilled.
the mid-1990s until 2000, the migration of highly skilled professional Filipinos
has been recorded to rise from 25 percent to 31 percent. Academics called it the
brain drain effect of globalization in Third World countries.
a bonanza of job offers for caregivers and nurses abroad is inducing an
escalation of the same phenomenon.
and even doctors are joining teachers, engineers, accountants, and other highly
educated Filipino yuppies in migrating or applying for overseas work en masse.
is tragic about this is that many who are taking advantage of the rash of job
opportunities abroad see this as their only option to have a better future for
their family. Even if they end up working in low-end jobs – a demotion from
their erstwhile professions.
activists in the health profession have coined a new term for this development:
“Brain drain in the south, brain waste in the north.”
top government officials, however, see nothing wrong with this. The labor and
health departments are even instituting mechanisms to enhance the country’s
capability to send “globally-competitive” health professionals abroad.
Secretary Manuel Dayrit, quoted in an article which appeared at a recent issue
of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) Pulso ng Bayan newsletter,
expressed powerlessness over the overwhelming number of health professionals
leaving the country to work abroad. But he adds that the Commission on Higher
Education (CHEd) should make sure that local nursing graduates be at par with
government, through the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA),
is at the forefront of training and exporting caregivers, among others, abroad.
Nowadays, officers and staffers at TESDA district offices in Metro Manila have
their hands full with almost a hundred accredited plus some 100 more yet
unregistered caregiver schools which have sprouted along with an increasing
number of professionals applying as caregivers abroad.
is the government institution mandated to accredit and monitor technical and
vocational schools in the country. Caregiver training institutions are among
TESDA’s areas of concern.
make sure that the country meets the standards of foreign employers, TESDA has
forged partnership with countries such as Canada that seek to raise the quality
of education of Filipino caregivers.
rules provide that departing caregivers need to be given a “Special Order”
by TESDA prior to having a Certification, Authentication and Verification (CAV)
of the six-month caregiver course they took in a TESDA-accredited caregiver
training school. Their prospective employers demand the same requirement.
while Filipino professionals who are taking chances to leave their families for
employment abroad may have no other choice given the bleak economic condition in
the country, this phenomenon, according to the research director of the IBON
Foundation, is likewise “deskilling” the country’s human resources, even
as many of them end up “deskilled” in their country of destination.
World professionals are deskilled while Third World countries are
‘deskilled’ or drained of skilled professionals,” Antonio Tujan, Jr., the
IBON research director, says.
caregivers and nurses
in affluent countries, there is currently a boom in jobs for caregivers and
Jobs Clearinghouse, a US-based website, advertises that 800,000 new caregivers
will be needed in the US for the next seven years. At present, it adds, 100,000
positions are available.
an advertisement is posted through the Philippine health department’s Exchange
Visitors Program (EVP) for 500,000 nurses needed for the next five years in the
US. Many doctors are said to be undergoing a one-year special course for
registered nurses so they could qualify under the program.
out-migration of nurses and other medical professionals is exacting a toll on
the country’s already sub-standard health service, however. A shortage of
nurses is threatening to paralyze the operations of public and private
hospitals– many of their nursing staff are applying in hordes, unmindful of
the work they will leave behind. At the Jose Reyes Memorial and Medical Center,
for example, 25 out of 30 working nurses have pending applications abroad.
report by the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) reveals that over the last two
years, 800 or 17 percent of nurses in 11 hospitals went abroad. This, according
to AHW’s national president Emma Manuel, has come to a point where
“operating rooms are staffed with novice nurses, and experienced ones often
work double shifts.”
data puts the number of Filipino registered nurses working abroad at 300,000 –
and rising. From January-August this year alone, 7,855 professional nurses left
for abroad, according to statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment
who left the country in the first six months of the year, on the other hand,
according to underrecorded data of the POEA, shot up to 86 percent. From 465
leaving caregivers POEA documented last year, as of July, 3,388 caregivers left
for abroad. This further went up last August to 3,798.
POEA’s statistics, especially of those going to Canada under Canada’s
Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), can be underrecorded. Many young Filipino LCP
applicants do not go to the POEA since the recruitment agency they applied with
in Canada takes care of their documentation requirements.
it was only last year when the POEA started documenting Filipino migrant workers
leaving as caregivers. Previously, POEA lumped caregivers together with domestic
helpers or domestics are among job categories which were recorded to be among
massively deployed Filipino overseas workers, ranking fourth in latest POEA
statistics. As of August, 41,597 domestics were deployed overseas.
according to Tujan’s article, “Health Professionals Migration and its Impact
on the Philippines,” which appeared in the June 2002 issue of the Asia Pacific
Research Network journal, fall under the category of Personal Services Workers
which official records place at 104,000.
the high demand for caregivers and nurses abroad especially in affluent
societies, may be attributed partly to the professional preference of the young
population of developed countries, where nursing shortages along with the rise
of private home care have been reported. Many youths in these countries loath
the idea of training as nurses thus leading hospitals and other medical
institutions to hire applicants from abroad.
Tujan says, this high demand for caregivers and nurses in developed countries is
also being exploited by labor recruitment agencies which charge fees for
recruitment services to hospitals and other health-care institutions, including
tie up with job placement agencies that proliferate in many sending countries in
Asia to exploit the demand for jobs by charging placement fees for the
unemployed and underemployed in such job-starved countries as the
Philippines,” writes Tujan.
partnership is a phenomenon of globalization, an internationalization of
contractual hiring, exploiting even cheaper migrant labor,” he adds.
to Tujan, this partnership is now a major business where both sending and
receiving countries profit from transactions in recruiting migrant labor from
third world countries.
explains: “Private placement agencies in collusion with government amplify by
attraction and fulfill the demand for jobs in third world countries and wring
the migrant worker of an even greater share of his or her future income, not
from the employer, but directly through government placement fees, usury and
other forms of exploitation.”
the exodus of nurses and caregivers from the Philippines, Tujan says this is due
to the preference of health insurance companies for cheaper home care than
hospitalization. This is one offshoot of the global trend in the privatization
of health services, as a result of globalization.
results in the increase in the deployment of nurses for home care through
manning agencies or as caregivers where their situation is no better than that
of domestic help,” he says.
LCP: a study in contrast
is there a more dramatic surge in migration of Filipino caregivers and nurses as
caregivers than in Canada.
zero POEA-processed deployment last year, the POEA facilitated the overseas
employment of 1,389 caregivers to Canada in the first six months of the year.
A staff at the marketing department of the POEA who declined to be named, says the quantity of Filipinos applying for the Canada LCP is just not enough to fill that country’s “enormous demand” for caregivers.
is the only country that has a program specifically tailored for foreign
caregivers. Began in 1992, the LCP is the antecedent of Canada’s 1981 Foreign
Domestic Program (FDP) where migrant workers from third world countries are
lured and given temporary working permits.
the LCP, foreign caregivers are given three years to complete a two-year
requirement of serving as a caregiver, either in private nursing homes or in
residences of rich Canadian citizens. After that, they are allowed to apply for
immigration in Canada and seek other jobs or profession.
LCP, however, has been criticized for keeping many Filipino professionals,
especially nurses, under a 24-hour day household work for middle and upper class
nurses under the LCP are exploited and their development stalled, a classic
example of the deskilling happening to Filipino professionals working abroad,
declares the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) in an article,
“Globalization and the Exodus of Filipino Nurses.”
date, as many as 300 Filipino nurses who came to Canada under the LCP, and who
have been organized by the Filipino Nurses Support Group (FNSG), are slugging it
out with Canadian immigration policies in seeking to be registered as nurses –
which they are – and allowed to work as such.
Canada, no point system is in place for the immigration of foreign nurses.
Immigration grants zero occupational points to foreign-trained nurses applying
as independent immigrants, says Maita Santiago, formerly from Canada. She now
acts as spokesperson of Migrante International, a Philippine-based organization
of migrant Filipinos.
Filipino nurses who came to Canada 30 years ago, Filipino nurses cannot
immediately practice their profession. This, says Santiago, forces many foreign
nurses to go to Canada as caregivers under the LCP.
finishing their two-year contract as caregivers, however, Filipino nurses find
out that they still cannot practice their profession without undergoing a series
of examinations, including possible re-schooling, if they fail the tests or if
they have not practiced their profession for the last five years.
these exams or, worse being told to retake a nursing education, costs a lot in
Canada, Santiago explains. “And because most of them prioritize their family
back in the Philippines or would rather first send for their families to Canada,
majority eventually end up becoming permanent caregivers or discriminated as
low-wage workers,” she adds.
is in stark contrast to the acute shortage of nurses in this country where since
1998 hospitals have been reported closing due to a crisis in the supply of
can be many more Filipino nurses working as caregivers in Canada. In 2000, out
of 2,780 people who entered Canada through the LCP that year, more than 2,000
were Filipinos many of them nurses, according to Immigration Canada.
Manuel comments that the often-recurring brain drain phenomenon along with labor
migration “is really a social problem.”
the average salary of a nurse in the country (at P5,000 a month) 43 times lower
than that for a nursing aide in the US (at $18 per hour) or 17 times lower that
earned by a caregiver in Ontario, Canada (at $7.85 per hour), it is not hard to
understand why Filipino nurses, doctors and other professionals are leaving the
country by more than 10,000 annually.
in one caregiver school in Manila cite “economic necessity” as the number
one reason for seeking caregiving jobs abroad.
hindi daw sila nakaalis, hindi makakapag-aral ang mga anak nila” (Their
children cannot go to school if they can’t work abroad), says Annie Pardines,
one of the owners of a caregiver school in Manila, quoting her students who are
mostly breadwinners of their family.
She adds their other students are disgusted over the way things are happening in the country, “with widespread corruption in government and hopelessness that the economy can still improve in the country.” With Miriam Anzurin, PMC Reports/Reposted by Bulatlat.com