Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.: ASEAN must address brain drain in healthcare sector

2023 April 13

BRAIN DRAIN. Executives of Temasek Foundation pose for photo opportunity with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos during a courtesy call at Malacañan Palace on Thursday (April 13, 2023). Marcos said Southeast Asian countries must adjust and find ways to address human capital flight, particularly in the healthcare sector for the benefit of the region. (Photo from Office of the President FB Page)

MANILA – Southeast Asian countries must adjust and find ways to address human capital flight, particularly in the healthcare sector for the benefit of the region, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.

The issue on brain drain in the region’s health sector, particularly the emigration of nurses and doctors, was discussed during the President’s meeting with Temasek Foundation executives at Malacañang Palace.

“We are very proud of (our nurses and doctors) and the role they play during the height of the pandemic but as I said, we are a victim of our own success,” President Marcos told Temasek officials led by its chair Ms. Jennie Chua Kheng Yeng.

“But you know, we have to adjust and find other ways. We have to give them at least equal opportunities at home. It is very clear that most Filipino overseas workers are willing to take less in terms of pay so long as they can stay here,” Marcos pointed out.

If Singapore can find a solution to that problem, it would immensely help the Southeast Asian region’s healthcare sector, the President said.

Ms. Jennie Chua said the Singapore nursing association has agreed to register nurses in Singapore to arrest human capital flight in the sector after the country lost 400 nurses to New Zealand, which offered permanent residency (PR).

Under New Zealand’s PR, nurses can bring their families with them, allow their children to go to local schools, and apply for housing.

The Temasek Foundation International chair said Singapore does not want to give Filipino nurses citizenship unlike what is being offered by the USA, Canada and New Zealand so they can go back and forth during their working years.

Chua commended the Philippines for producing good nurses and doctors, noting Singapore’s emergency room doctors are mostly Filipinos, and praised their training based on life experience.

Temasek Foundation, a Singapore-based non-profit philanthropic organization, is an arm of Singapore’s state sovereign fund Temasek Holdings.

The foundation funds and supports programs aimed at building community capabilities in Asia and beyond through philanthropic endowments.

The foundation forged agreements with the Philippines to enhance competencies across industries, through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) (Digitalization and Industry 4.0) Program, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with Design Thinking Programme, and Health Care Management Program.