Reinforcing frontliners

What makes the 2019 coronavirus disease doubly tragic is that it claims the lives of both the stricken and the medical and health service providers.

Indeed, Covid-19 is the ruthless elimin, indeed.ator that does not differentiate.

But by making even medical professionals vulnerable, the virus can potentially decimate the pool of health workers being deployed to the battlefront.

It is bad enough that the cream of the crop of our corps of health professionals have gone for greener  pastures abroad.

The decimation of their ranks here at home by the Covid-19 onslaught is a terrifying thought, indeed.

And so we fully agree with and strongly support Sen. Francis Tolentino in urging the Department of Health to authorize more than 1,500 medical school graduates to render medical services without having them finish their licensure examinations so that they can be immediately deployed as the country strengthens its fight against Covid-19.

“During epidemics and national emergencies, the secretary of the DOH can authorize graduates of medical schools to render medical services without a certificate of registration as provided for in Sec. 12 of Republic Act 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959,” Tolentino said in a letter addressed to Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.

He noted that around 1,524 new medicine graduates have already taken the first two parts of the Physician Licensure Examination scheduled on March 8, 9, 15 and 16, 2020.

The two latter dates have been postponed by the Professional Regulation Commission on March 11 due to the pandemic.

“It is urged that these graduates from all the medical schools in the Philippines be authorized to practice medicine and to be registered as doctors, without having to take the PLE, upon waiver of the same by the PRC, so that they can be immediately deployed to support the government and local government units,” Tolentino said.

He said the practice would be similar to what has been done in Italy, where they waived the mandatory licensure exam of around 10,000 of their medical graduates so that they can immediately help combat the Covid-19 health crisis gripping the European country.

The lawmaker also noted that it has also been done before in the United Kingdom wherein senior medical students of Edinburgh University were tapped to serve in the British army as temporary surgeons on probation during World War I in 1914 before they graduated.

In the Philippines, the closest example was when during the World War II, the cadets from batch 1942 and 1943 of the Philippine Military Academy were commissioned as lieutenants and called to war even before they graduated from the academy, he said.

“In a national health crisis, such as a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people,” Tolentino said.

“The reality is, in such  a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, two more routes were added to the free shuttle service for health workers in Metro Manila, with a total of 16 routes as of Tuesday on the second week of the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon.

“From the three initial routes since the program began on 18 March 2020, it now has 16 routes. This means more health workers will be assisted by the department’s initiative),” the Department of Transportation  said.

According to the DoTr, the 15th route would have its pickup and transfer points at the SLEX Sucat Exit and Baclaran Market.

It would cater to health workers who would need to be dropped off or picked up at the Medical Center-Parañaque, Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center, Olivarez General Hospital, The Premier Medical Center, Pasay City General Hospital, Adventist Medical Center, and the Philippine General Hospital.

The 16th route, would  have its pickup and transfer points at SM City San Mateo, the BFCT East Metro Transport Terminal along Marcos Highway, and Robinson’s Galleria.

The route would pass through the San Mateo Medical Center, St. Vincent Hospital, Immaculate Conception Hospital, Marikina Valley Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, St. Anthony Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, and The Medical City in Ortigas.

The rest of the routes can be viewed on Google Maps at s://goo.gl/maps/iskbLDBRDRS7Z3gh7.

Buses would pick up and drop off passengers at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.