Press release

Increasing the knowledge base for policy decision making: EU and ILO Manila promote decent work agenda for Filipino health professionals

Thousands of Filipino health professionals migrate every year for work raising important questions related to the global shortage and inequitable distribution of health professionals in and between many countries and the conditions under which their migration experience takes place.

Press release | Makati City, Philippines | 24 July 2013
©ILO/M. Rimando 2013

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Union are working with professionals in the healthcare field to improve the management of the migration flows for Filipino healthcare professionals who migrate for work every year.

With a total grant of EUR2 million (US$3 million) from the European Union, the pilot project promotes decent work among healthcare professionals and skilled workers from India, Philippines and Viet Nam.

The project, "Decent Work across Borders" brings together government, workers, employers, professional organizations and recruitment agencies, to design schemes that will promote the safe and ethical migration of healthcare professionals.

According to the OECD, the health sector in the European Union is of growing social and economic significance. In 2009, on average the health and care sector accounted for 10 per cent of employment across OECD countries.1

The sector is however showing signs of increased marketization and privatisation as the continent struggles with the effects of the financial crisis.

Although efforts are being made to increase the training of new health professionals and enhance retention strategies, experts agree that migrant health professionals will be needed to answer the growing healthcare needs of European member States.2

The Philippines is one of the most important sources of foreign health workers for OECD and European countries. Around 12,000 nurses leave the Philippines annually to work abroad. In 2010, they represented about 15 per cent of all immigrant nurses in OECD countries.

It is crucial to better understand working conditions offered to migrant workers" Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Country Office for the Philippines

The impacts of immigration are critical as they feed into the political climate which influence the reform of migration related legislations and frameworks. It is vital to document these impacts with evidences to contribute to the policy debate in a constructive and balanced manner.

"It is crucial to better understand the particular working conditions offered to those migrant workers and the impact that those changes are susceptible to have on the efficiency of health systems in sending and receiving countries" said Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the International Labour Organization Country Office for the Philippines.

The ILO organized a policy dialogue to share the results of four recent researches conducted with the aim to better understand the effects of health professional migration on host societies and migrant themselves and the best way to ensure that it takes place in the best interests of all. The policy dialogue was held on 23 July 2013 in Makati City.

The assessment studies on of the impact of migration of health professionals on labour market indicators of receiving countries; the working conditions of foreign-trained health professionals in the United Kingdom; effects of Philippines bilateral labour arrangements with selected countries and services for migrant health professionals were presented by international and local consultants who are experts in the field of migration and human resources for health.

"Migration of health professionals is at the junction of the right to mobility, right to health and right to decent work" said Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, Chief Technical Advisor for the ILO Decent Work across Borders project. "It is about finding an acceptable compromise between the rights and obligations of migrant workers, employers and governments based on sound research findings. Little information is available on the specific situation regarding skilled, and in particular health professionals having migrated to Europe".

The results of the research generated by the ILO Decent Work Across Borders will inform European based policy makers on the best way to ensure that migration respect international ethical standards for the benefit of all.

For further information please contact:

Ms Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, ILO DWAB, +63 2 580 9917, Email
Ms Minette Rimando, ILO Media, +63 2 580 9905, Email