Finland to open doors to RP Practical nurses, health workers

PHILNEWS — FINLAND has opened its doors to Filipino nurses and other healthcare professionals as an estimated 900,000 of its “baby boom” generation will reach retirement within the next years.

Philippine Ambassador to Sweden Maria Zeneida A. Collinson met with Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, Minister of Employment and the Economy Tarja Cronberg and several other high-ranking officials responsible for health care and migration when she visited Finland on April 16-18 to inform them of the Philippines readiness to be a partner in helping alleviate the critical shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals in Finland.

Finland is widely expected to be one of the first European countries to experience a demographic shock when its “baby boom” generation reaches retirement age within the next twelve years.

With insufficient birth rates to offset the country’s rapidly ageing population, the ensuing decline in the working-age population is predicted to lead to rising pensions and deteriorating healthcare services, the Ambassador said.

Collinson said the Philippine Government proposes to send a mission to Finland led by officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) before yearend to discuss the need or otherwise of a bilateral agreement on labor.

Minister Cronberg welcomed the proposal. The positive stance was echoed by officials of the Ministry of Interior, Immigration Department and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Health.

Collinson first started discussions on the entry of Filipino healthcare professionals to Finland last year.

On April 22, a pilot group of eight nurses arrived in Finland for further training leading to competence-based qualification of a practical nurse. Before going to said country they were initially trained and were given Finnish lessons in the Philippines.

Interested private sector groups are set to visit the Philippines in the next few months to discuss and lay the groundwork for the official Philippine mission later in the year.

During her visit to Helsinki, the Ambassador also attended the dinner hosted by Finnish President Tarja Halonen for accredited Ambassadors.