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 ASEAN Leaders to affirm MRA on nursing services


CEBU CITY--The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will affirm the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Nursing Services when they meet here this week for the 12th ASEAN Summit.

The MRA, which opens new and greater opportunities for Filipino nurses to work within the member countries of ASEAN, was signed by economic ministers of the 10 ASEAN member countries last Dec. 9 before the first scheduled summit was postponed due to Typhoon "Seniang."

Ramon Kabigting, director of the Bureau of International Trade Regulation (BITR) of the Department of Trade and Industry, said the arrangement offers new opportunities to Filipino nurses who will now be allowed wider access to nursing employment in the ASEAN region.

ASEAN, with a combined population of 470 million, groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The regional grouping has been fast-tracking efforts to open its economies to free trade in services and goods.
Under the MRA, rules were liberalized to allow free exchange of nursing services within the region.

First, an individual must be registered and/or licensed as a professional nurse by the nursing regulatory authority in their country of origin.

Nurses seeking jobs within the ASEAN member countries may then apply for registration or license in a host country to be recognized before being allowed to practice nursing in accordance with the laws and regulations of the host country.

"This means our nurses do not have to take the national nurse licensure examinations of other ASEAN members to be able to practice in those countries," Kabigting said. 

A minimum practical experience in the practice of nursing of not less than three successive years prior to the application is also required.

The MRA also provides for the establishment of the ASEAN joint coordinating committee on nursing services to facilitate greater understanding of existing policies, procedures and practices and develop and promote strategies to manage the implementation of the MRA.

"The Philippines will be the MRA's biggest beneficiary, since we are now the world's biggest exporter of nurses," Kabigting said.
DFA Assistant Secretary Luis Cruz, Director-General for the ASEAN   Affairs, said earlier that the ASEAN member-countries are also pursuing negotiations for similar agreements in the architectural, accountancy, surveying, medical practitioners, tourism and information technology professions.

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