By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Francis Tolentino on Tuesday commended the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for allowing 1,500 new medical graduates to join in the government’s fight against the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 threat.
Tolentino issued the statement following IATF Spokesperson Karlo Nograles’ pronouncement that they have adopted the Interim Guidelines for the Granting of Special Authorization for the Limited Practice of Medical Graduates as presented by the Department of Health (DOH).
The 1,500 new medical graduates to be given special authorization as doctors would be deployed to the public hospitals in the battle against COVID-19.
Tolentino had earlier called on the DOH to consider deploying graduates of medical schools in the Philippines and authorize them for a limited practice of medicine, without finishing their licensure examination.
This was after the DOH issued a call for volunteer doctors and nurses to help in the government’s COVID-19 response.
He said this is pursuant to Section 12 of the Republic Act No. 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959, as amended.
The said law provides that “certificates of registration shall not be required of…medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine and registered nurses who may be given limited and special authorization by the secretary of health to render medical services during epidemics or national emergencies.”
Over 1,500 medical school graduates were scheduled to take the Physician Licensure Examination (PLE) administered by the Professional Licensure Examination (PRC) scheduled last March 8, 9, 15 and 16.
However, the medical school graduates were only able to take the exam on March 8 and 9, but not on March 15 and 16. The two latter dates was postponed by the PRC due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The senator said these medical school graduates are equipped enough to support the country’s health care workers in public hospitals since they have already finished one year of their medical internship and have obtained their diplomas.
“These medical school graduates are sufficiently equipped to support our health care workers in the public hospitals and that they shall be a big help to our fight against the pandemic,” Tolentino said.
The senator said this has also been done in Italy, which also seriously suffered the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Allowing these medical graduates to serve in the frontlines of the war against COVID-19 will be the highest form of patriotism for these young people as they serve not only the nation but ultimately the whole of humanity, as well,” he stressed.
Likewise, Tolentino said the medical graduates are entitled to compensation and appropriate protective medical equipment from the national government, pursuant to Rep. Act No.11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.