THREE House leaders have thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act.
Deputy Speakers Mikee Romero and Rufus Rodriguez and chairman of the House committee on health Rep. Helen Tan said the measure will provide a medical scholarship for deserving and qualified students.
Romero said aside from scholarship grants, the law will ensure the presence of doctors in every town nationwide to response to the medical needs of the Filipinos particularly the poor.
The three solons are among the authors of Republic Act 11509.
For her part, Tan explained that Republic Act No.11509 has now become even more important in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do not doubt that the enactment of this legislation, a complementary measure to the Universal Health Care Act, is one of the enormously significant health reform measures in the country whose time has come,” Tan she said.
Republic Act 11509 stands on the twin strategies of providing free medical education and return service or mandatory rendering of professional medical services as a form of co-payment for the medical scholarship.
It does not only intend to answer the dearth of doctors in the country but more importantly to address the need of the poor individuals and communities for urgent medical attention.
The new law provides institutional mechanism for the envisioned sustained human resource development for the Philippine public health care system as it seeks to provide the financial and other educational resource support mechanisms for the pursuit of studies in the field of medicine by deserving and qualified students in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) or private higher education institutions (PHEIs) in regions where there are no SUCs.
The law also requires mandatory service in public health office or government hospital in times of pandemic or public health emergency as one of the conditions for the grant of medical scholarship.
Rodriguez said that the medical scholarship and return service program will result in having doctors in remote towns in the country.
The program is the answer to the problem of students from poor families who want to study medicine but cannot afford its high cost, he said.
“It is also the answer to our lack of doctors in remote areas in the provinces, where many of the sick die without being attended to by a physician,” he added.
He explained that under the law, each town in the country should have at least one qualified applicant in the medical scholarship and return service program.
In case there is no qualified student from a particular town, its slot may be given to an applicant from a nearby municipality.
After completing his medical course and passing the licensure examination, the new doctor-program beneficiary is required to render service in his town for one year for every year of his doctor of medicine degree, Rodriguez said.
In the case of a graduate who took the slot of a particular town, he will render service in that municipality, he said.