MANILA: Iraq wants to send its nursing students for training at Philippine medical schools, Baghdad’s envoy to Manila told Arab News, as an Iraqi health ministry delegation wrapped up its visit on Friday.
A delegation led by Iraq’s Deputy Health Minister Khamees Hussein Ali was in Manila this week for talks with Philippine officials to reboot bilateral relations and cooperation after a 10-year gap.
One of the main sectors discussed during the talks was health care.
While Filipino nurses are not being employed at Iraqi hospitals as the Philippines has yet to lift its worker deployment ban — in place since 2020 due to security reasons — Iraq has requested that its staff be trained at Philippine facilities.
“We gave the proposal that we will send Iraqi nurses to train here,” Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed told Arab News.
“They will spend one year here, so they will graduate from Iraqi universities and from the Philippines.”
The health ministry’s delegation also requested training for faculty members from Iraqi universities to make them familiar with the nursing curriculum of Philippine schools.
Filipino nurses, many of whom are well-trained and fluent in English, have long been in high demand abroad.
The Iraqi envoy said that Filipino nurses enjoyed a worldwide reputation due to their professionalism, which has come under the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic — in many countries in the Middle East they had led frontline response efforts.
“Filipino nurses are like the angels now ... so everyone, not only in Iraq but also in Europe, the US, other Arab countries, asks for Filipino nurses,” he said.
“Their reputation is very good … that is why we are very happy to cooperate.”
Iraq has been struggling to uplift its health care system, once one of the best in the Middle East, which has been wrecked by decades of conflict, international sanctions and the US-led invasion in 2003.
Many medical professionals have left Iraq since the early 2000s and the country is facing a shortage of 30,000 health professionals — 20,000 of them nurses and caregivers — according to data released this month from the Ministry of Planning.