Bahrain to recruit medical staff from Philippines
Manama, June 12, 2011
Bahrain is turning to the Philippines to help fill staff shortages in the medical sector, according to the country's top envoy.
The King Hamad University Hospital has already inquired about recruiting Filipino medical professionals, said Philippines Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin.
'The new hospital needs new recruits and in the Philippines we have high standards,' she told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'I don't think we are replacing those who lost their jobs (due to the unrest), but it's because the demands are great at the Royal Hospital and the King Hamad Hospital, and the American Mission Hospital also needs staff.
'In Bahrain, people come and go and positions need to be filled, but there are also many who have stayed here and married here.'
The envoy said the Philippines government had lifted its ban on travel to Bahrain imposed during the unrest and contracts could be processed again.
'The alert level has been lowered to one, so we still don't encourage non-essential travel to Bahrain, but we want to try to lift this soon,' said Yap-Bahjin.
'The number of contracts has increased since the ban was lifted because of the backlog.'
Yap-Bahjin said around 48,000 Filipinos lived in Bahrain, but many still faced difficulties with their sponsors.
There are now 51 women staying at the embassy's shelter and efforts are being made to repatriate them as fast as possible, she said.
'Bahrain's immigration and police have been very helpful in helping us fast track repatriation,' said Yap-Bahjin.
'It's usual for those who come from the provinces and haven't even been to Manila, and they are duped or their relatives have told them to come here and make money.
'They come here and have a culture shock, it's a different language, culture, time zone and the houses are big and some have never had experience working with other people.
'During Ramadan they sleep only three or four hours for one month, so we always get more runaways at that time.'
Yap-Bahjin said some domestic workers were also not paid the monthly minimum wage of $400 (BD151) that had been imposed by the Philippines government.
'The girls sign a contract for $400 (BD151) in the Philippines and then when they come here they have to sign a contract for $200 (BD75.6),' she said.
'They sign because many of the girls come from the provinces and are gullible.
'The employer takes their passports and contracts, so they are left with nothing.
'Even though the government here says they can't keep their passports they still do.'
The envoy said there were also problems with rogue recruitment agencies that make Filipino workers sign contracts usually for a potential job in the service sector, but when they arrive in Bahrain or elsewhere the offer was less pay or a different designation.
However, she said the Philippines was taking steps to protect its citizens from accepting jobs in countries where there was a human trafficking risk.
'Some go to countries that are dangerous for them, they might go for adventure, but the Philippines Bureau of Immigration will protect them by not allowing them to board planes if they are going to a country that is known for human trafficking,' she said.
'Some people are so gullible and it is easy to cheat them, so the country is trying to protect those who can't protect themselves.'
Meanwhile, Yap-Bahjin said the Philippines government was planning a trade mission to Bahrain and the Gulf before the end of the year to promote several public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects.
'We intend to enhance our facilities, seaports, airports and highways and bring investors who will build and operate these projects,' said the ambassador.
'We will meet Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials, those in the field of infrastructure and Mumtalakat to discuss investment opportunities.
'We can put them in touch with Filipino companies or they can go solo.
'The projects vary in the size of investment, for example, we have three airports that will need an investment of between $12 million (BD4.5 million) and $15 million (BD5.6 million).'
Yap-Bahjin was speaking on the occasion of the 113th anniversary of the Philippines Independence Day, which falls on June 12.
A flag-hoisting ceremony will be held to celebrate the event at the Philippines Embassy in Mahooz today at 7am and will be followed by a blood donation drive.
The campaign, in co-operation with Salmaniya Medical Complex, began on June 3 and will continue until the end of the month.-TradeArabia News Service