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ILO: Protecting Filipino Nurses Migrating Abroad
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ILO: Protecting Filipino Nurses Migrating Abroad

The Philippine government has a unique approach to looking after its workers in foreign countries, in the knowledge that it will reap the rewards when they return home with new skills and experience.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
The Philippines is famous worldwide for its highly skilled nurses. Every year, thousands of Filipino women and men train for a profession that's increasingly in demand, as the world's population continues to age. But the country that produces some of the world's most skilled nurses often can't keep them at home, because they can earn far more overseas. Many nurses migrate to Saudi Arabia: among them, Fernando Urutia, who found his experience hard at first.
FERNANDO URUTIA
I was crying for three months because, number one, the language. You know, Saudi Arabia, they speak Arabic.
VOICEOVER
The exodus of nurses has led to a crisis in the country's healthcare. Leah Primitiva Paquiz, of the Philippine Nurses Association.
LEAH PRIMITIVA PAQUIZ
Now, almost all ... many of our matured and experienced nurses are out of the country.
VOICEOVER
For some migrants, the dream of finding a new life abroad turns into a nightmare of exploitation, especially in sectors where there is little protection from national legislation says Gloria Moreno-Fontes Chammartin, of the International Labour Organization.
GLORIA MORENO-FONTES CHAMMARTIN
For us, it is very important. For example, the issues of migration status: are they going abroad documented or undocumented? As you know, when they are going abroad undocumented they are much more vulnerable.
VOICEOVER
The protection of Filipinos working abroad has been a major concern for the Philippine government. For more than 40 years, it's been building agreements with countries which hire Filipino nurses and other workers. In partnership with overseas governments, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration regulates recruitment, contracts, and employment in destination countries, especially in Saudi Arabia, says Hans Cacdac who works for the organization.
HANS CACDAC
I think it's a model in Asia because, as far back as the 1970s, there is a network of administrative protection, a set of guarantees of rights of our migrant workers if and when they do work abroad.
VOICEOVER
Thanks to this protection, Fernando Urutia got help and support whenever he needed it from the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia and from his own government back home. The rest was up to him.
FERNANDO URUTIA
When going to one country, you have to embrace their culture as well so that you can stay. That's why, that's the reason why I stayed in Saudi Arabia for 15 years.
VOICEOVER
And it turns out the "brain drain" effect of migration isn't the whole story.
HANS CACDAC
We're also emphasizing the "brain gain" effect. Which is, at some point in time, when these nurses return, they shall have derived a wealth of experience abroad, more talent, and more skills, and therefore they may bring it back here to either reinvest and share skills or talent that they have acquired abroad.
VOICEOVER
These student nurses are benefiting from this "brain gain" effect: they're learning from the insights of their teacher, Fernando.
FERNANDO URUTIA
I want to share my knowledge, I want to share my experiences with these student nurses, because they are the new generation. Nursing is not just like you want to earn dollars. It's a vocation, it's a calling.
VOICEOVER
This report was prepared by the ILO for the United Nations.