The Philippines landed on Norway’s state authorization office watch list for being a problem area when it comes to recruitment of health workers.
In a recent report by Norway’s national broadcaster NRK, it was revealed that an employee of the Statens Autorisasjonskontor for Helsepersonnell (SAFH) sent a letter to the health department alleging that many foreign health workers have slipped through the control of SAFH and had been authorized to work in Norway despite lack of medical training and qualification.
The letter also said that the Philippines along with Serbia and Romania had the most number of applications from health personnel with dubious credentials to work in Norway.
Confronted with the report, acting SAFH Director Jørgen Holmboe denied any knowledge of the letter and said that his office only has few cases of applications with dubious credentials.
However, he admitted that his office is overwhelmed by the number of cases being processed by the office. The SAFH has 20 employees and processes 22,000 applications for authorization to work as health personnel every year.
Hølmboe took over from SAFH’s former director Per Haugum who stepped down from his office in May this year after heavy criticism from the health department following media reports of cases of foreign health personnel authorized by SAFH to work despite lack of proper health education and training credentials.
Reacting to the report, Philippine Nurses Association-Oslo President Cesar Dela Cruz told ABS-CBN Europe in an email interview that he disagrees with the report.
“Since I began working as a nurse in 2001, I only knew one (Filipino) who applied for licensure with a falsified board certificate,” Dela Cruz wrote.
Filipino nurses Alfredo Morte and Rosemarie Ruiz who were interviewed by NRK in the same report confirmed that a number of Filipino nurses in Norway do not have proper medical credentials to work as health personnel.
“I don’t understand why these Filipinos continue to ruin our credibility in the media without any move of contacting us in the PNA so as to discuss these things and find solutions among us Filipinos. I strongly challenge these people to show us concrete evidences and I promise that they’ll get my support,” Dela Cruz further wrote.
However, Dela Cruz said that PNA is willing to cooperate with Norwegian authorities if they are deputized to do so. He also said his organization will support the call for withdrawal of visas and work permits to personnel found to have submitted fake papers to the authorization office “after they have undergone due process.”
“I can say that they can be threats to the health system of Norway and at the same time a shame for our nation,” Dela Cruz added.
Norway recruits thousands of nurses from the Philippines each year. The Philippine embassy in Oslo is currently negotiating for a bilateral agreement with the Norwegian government for the recruitment of health personnel.