LIKE other Third World nations throughout the world, the Philippines, a major manpower exporter, lacks medical doctors, nurses and other health professionals due to the so-called “brain drain.”
It is public knowledge that many Filipino students, including those in the countryside, want to become physicians, but grinding poverty prevents them from pursuing medical education.
However, with President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Republic Act (RA) No. 11509 last December 23, the government hopes to address the “twin problems” of poverty and “brain drain” in the country.
The landmark piece of legislation mandates the establishment of “a medical scholarship and return service program” for poor but deserving students throughout the Philippines.
Under the law, a municipality should have at least one qualified applicant in the program. If there’s no qualified student from a particular town, its slot may be given to an applicant from a nearby municipality.
After finishing his/her medical course and passing the licensure examination, the new doctor is required to render service in his/her town for one year for every year of his doctor of medicine degree.
This will ensure the availability of medical doctors, who will provide quality basic, preventive and curative health care services in every municipality, according to the newly-signed law.
Particularly in the underserved, remote, economically underdeveloped, distressed, conflict-afflicted, and geographically disadvantaged areas throughout this impoverished nation.
The government, which has laid the groundwork to ensure the health of even the poor, deserves the support of all sectors of society as it exerts efforts to meet the medical needs of the people.