Villanueva urges CHED, DOH to fast track implementation of ‘Doktor Para sa Bayan’ Law
Recruiting medical scholars should be as funded and as focused as government preparations for the May 2022 elections, Senator Joel Villanueva said, adding that “future physicians are the most important hire the government should make at this time.”
Villanueva, principal sponsor and author of the landmark Doktor Para Sa Bayan law, said the medical scholarship program, when fully implemented, will double the number of medicine graduates staying in the country and bring medical services closer to far-flung communities through the return service program.
“Coming from the pandemic, this is the most important health insurance we should have,” he said in a statement. “We’re confident that the Commission on Higher Education is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the implementing rules of this very important measure. We hope that the IRR is released just before the Academic Year opens in the next few months.”
He explained that if billions in taxpayer’s money is spent to hold elections for 18,000 national and local posts every three years, the amount to produce the same number of doctors is definitely much lower.
There are only 3 practicing doctors for every 10,000 Filipinos, with the ratio higher in rural communities as doctors concentrate around patient-rich urban centers.
To address this, Congress passed the Doktor Para Sa Bayan bill, which President Duterte signed into law as Republic Act 11509 in December last year.
“Coming from the pandemic, this is the most important health insurance we should have.”
The law “consolidates and harmonizes” all state medical scholarship programs under a single Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) program.
The scholarship covers tuition and other school fees; books, supplies, and equipment; clothing, dormitory and transportation allowances; internship, medical board review and licensure fees; and a monthly stipend.
Once scholars obtain their licenses, they “repay” the state by serving as physicians in underserved communities and government facilities.
Villanueva said two state universities received the greenlight from the Commission on Higher Education to open their medical schools: Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga Peninsula, and Cebu Normal University in Cebu. The latest additions bring to 10 the number of SUCs offering medical programs in their institutions.
Villanueva urged CHED and DOH to create a website on the scholarship program “that will serve as a one-stop information center and application portal.”
He called on the CHED, DOH and DBM to immediately release the law’s implementing rules and regulations “in time for the opening of the second semester.”
“Tulad po ng mga ating mga government projects, do not delay rin po ang panawagan natin sa implementasyon ng Doktor para sa Bayan law, alang-alang buhay at kalusugan at kalusugan ng ating mamamayan,” he said.