The Philippine government could actually keep Filipino nurses from going abroad by utilizing revenues it would otherwise have foregone under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

The average monthly salary of a nurse in the public sector is some P10,000. Government employs around 20,000 nurses, and even if we increase their salaries to P50,000, it would only cost the government P1 billion. This is less than one-tenth of the estimated P10.6 billion in tariff revenues foregone annually with the target tariff eliminations for the Philippines under JPEPA.

Low salaries are the reasons why the country has become the leading exporter of nurses globally with 85% of all employed Filipino nurses actually working abroad. But this exodus of health workers has taken its toll on the health system, with 200 hospitals closing and 800 more partially closing in recent years due to lack of nurses.

The tariff revenues foregone under JPEPA could potentially go far in improving the salaries of public sector nurses and in the hiring of new ones. These would go a long way in improving the shortage of nursing care in the country.


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