Philippines leaders back the quality of their nurses

The Philippines Government is calling on the Nursing Council not to reject Filipino nurses with qualifications they completed in less than four years.

Consul General Marcos Punsalang said embassy representatives, including the ambassador, met the Nursing Council after receiving complaints from Filipinos facing registration difficulties here to reassure it of the "high quality and strict standards" of nursing programmes in the Philippines.

"Regardless of whether nursing graduates are doing it as a first course, or second course where they complete it in less than four years, they all go through the same examinations and the same strict standards," said Mr Punsalang.

There were 26,000 Filipinos in New Zealand, between 300 and 500 working as nurses, Mr Punsalang said.

Hundreds of other qualified nurses from the country are waiting to receive their registration so they can seek employment.

The Philippines Government is pushing to place more workers overseas as fears that as many as 800,000 people in the country could lose their jobs this year because of the global financial crisis.

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"Times are hard now, and the global economy is in recession," said Mr Punsa-ang.

"Holding a job anywhere is hard, and getting employed becomes all the more important, which is why we have to fight hard to ensure that Filipinos living overseas are also in employment."

The Philippines is one of the world's leading sources of skilled and unskilled workers, with up to nine million, or about 10 per cent of the population, living and working in 140 countries, including New Zealand.

In the first 11 months of last year alone, these workers have sent home US$15 billion ($28 billion), contributing about 10 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

The Nursing Council says the number of nursing students in the Philippines has boomed from 30,000 in 2004 to 450,000 last year, and it is concerned at the effect the rapid growth has had on the quality of the training programmes.

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