Philippines lifts decade-old ban on nursing programmes in more schools

Over 200,000 additional nurses are needed across the country to reach the number prescribed by the United Nations. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippines has lifted a decade-old ban on offering nursing programmes in more schools, as it looks to boost supply to meet the demand for nurses.

The government is now allowing more colleges and universities to train prospective nurses, following declines in graduates and board passers since a moratorium on new nursing schools was imposed in 2010.

More than 11,000 passed last year's licensure exam in the Philippines, one of the world's top suppliers of nurses, reflecting a significant fall from over 60,000 in 2011, according to the Commission on Higher Education.

"There is really a big gap in the supply side. The demand side requires more nurses than what we have," the commission's chairman Prospero de Vera said at an online briefing on Wednesday (July 13).

Over 200,000 additional nurses are needed across the country to reach the number prescribed by the United Nations, he added.

Some 13,000 nurses leave the Philippines for work abroad annually, according to industry estimates in 2020.

The country capped the number of health professionals it sent abroad at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as local hospitals became short-staffed.

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