A SENATOR on Thursday pushed for the lifting of the deployment ban imposed on healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, which has mainly affected nurses who already have contracts for work overseas.

“The travel ban hostages their chance to have a decent work-life balance and give their families a better future,” Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, vice chairperson of the labor committee, said in a statement on Thursday.

The ban, ordered by the national task force handling the coronavirus response, was adopted by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in April.

Ms. Binay said the restriction should be lifted unless the government can offer them a “competitive compensation.”

The task force imposed the ban to supposedly ensure the adequacy of health care workers as the country grapples with the pandemic.

The Department of Health (DoH) on Tuesday said they projected some 16,500 health workers are needed, but has so far approved only 10,468 slots for hiring.

As of Aug. 24, only 7,850 have been hired with DoH officials previously admitting that there has been a dearth of applicants.

Ms. Binay, citing a 2017 DoH data, said there are 750,000 licensed medical professionals in the country, including 204,437 who are active in the health sector. — Charmaine A. Tadalan