Senate urged to pass medical reserve corps bill

Published December 5, 2021, 3:58 PM

by Melvin Sarangay

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor has called on the Senate to pass the House bill that seeks to create a new Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) which he said is “absolutely crucial to enable the country to suppress future pandemics.”

“The bill is already with the Senate, after the House approved it in March. They ought to pass the measure forthwith,” Defensor, who is running for Quezon City mayor, said in a statement made on the eve of National Health Emergency Preparedness Day, which the country observes every Dec. 6.

“We have to establish the MRC without delay to reinforce the country’s health system in times of public health emergencies, or severe health threats.”

Defensor added that President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to pass the MRC bill in his fifth State of the Nation Address last July.

Defensor said that under House Bill No. 8999, the MRC will be supervised by the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH).

It will be composed of licensed physicians, medicine graduates, medical students, registered nurses and other allied health professionals, including those who have retired and are no longer practicing in the hospital setting.

The MRC will be organized, developed and maintained to ensure their readiness to respond to the call of service and mobilized when an emergency occurs due to a new infectious disease or biological toxin, bioterrorism, a natural disaster, a chemical attack or accidental release, a nuclear attack or accident, or an attack or accidental discharge of radioactive materials, among other dangers.

It will also be deployed to support the Armed Forces Medical Corps during a state of war, state of lawless violence or state of calamity.

According to the partylist solon, the MRC is expected to have mobilization centers in every province to accommodate members, their equipment and supplies during deployment.

It will also have a minimum inventory of essential individual and organizational equipment and supplies to ensure their readiness to deploy, as well as the capacity to quickly scale up procurement of provisions when needed.

Under the measure, Defensor stated that MRC members who render service shall receive compensation, medical care, hospitalization and other benefits and privileges during deployment, as recommended by law or regulation.

During deployment, corps members will also continue to receive all their pay and perks from their regular jobs. It will also maintain a registry of all its members in a database including their individual serial numbers, addresses, and contact details.

Defensor added that universities and colleges will be required to transmit every year to the MRC a list of all their medical, nursing and other health program graduates to expedite their corps enlistment.