By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives is putting in place preparations that will make the country ready in case another pandemic occurs in the future.
The strategy: launch medical scholarships to address the critical shortage of doctors.
The long-term goal: achieve an ideal ratio of 1 doctor for every 1,000 Filipinos. The current ratio is 1 doctor for every 33,000 citizens.
The House launched on Wednesday plenary deliberations for the passage of a bill offering medical scholarship for at least one student in each municipality in the country.
House Bill 6756 consolidates 19 separate bills filed by at least 48 House members. Principal authors include Reps. Joel Mayo Almario (PDP-Laban, Davao Oriental); Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Precious Hipolito (NUP, Quezon City); Eric Go Yap (ACT CIS Partylist); Paolo Duterte (HNP, Davao City); Ann Hofer (PDP-Laban, Zamboanga Sibugay) and Joseph Lara (NPC, Cagayan).
Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, said passage of the measure has become vital in the country which has a serious shortage of medical doctors.
Go, who sponsored the measure in the plenary, said HB 6756 will prepare the Philippines for pandemics that may hit the country anytime in the future.
According to Go the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the Philippines’ critical need for more doctors.
“Imagine, only 70,000 active physicians are serving approximately 110 million Filipinos. There are also islands and far flung areas in the country that are without doctors right now,” he lamented.
Citing statistics from the Philippine Medical Association, Go disclosed that out of the 130,000 licensed physicians in the country, only 70,000 are in active service in the Philippines. The remainder have left for jobs abroad.
Worse, a good number of doctors now work as nurses in other countries which offer higher pay compared to what a physician would have earned practising the medical profession in the Philppines.
Under the bill the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for deserving students will be established in state universities and collegues or in private higher education institutions in the region twhere there ar eno SUC’s offering a medical course.
Covered by the scholarship are expenses fro tuition and other school fees; allowance for prescribed books, suppliesand equipment, clothing and uniform allowance, payment of dormitory and boarding house accommdation, internship fees, among others.
Only Filipino citizens or naturalized Filipinos living in the Philippines may qualify for scholarship.
As a condition for the scholarship grant, students must carry a full load of subjects, finish the entire Doctor of Medicine program and must underake post graduate internship in a DOH-accredited public health facility or hospital.
A mandatory return service in a government public health office, state-run hospital and other government health facilities for a minimum period of four years.