Philippine rural hospitals face crisis due to shortage of doctors

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WITH the alarming shortage of medical doctors and other medical professionals in most rural areas of the country, lawmakers proposed the creation of the Philippine Medical Academy and establishing a parallel scholarship program.

“Hospitals in the rural areas, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao face a crisis and even imminent closure because of lack of doctors,” Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo revealed as he urged the passage of HB 6708 with his mother, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as co-author.

Noting that the government itself has acknowledged the alarming shortage, Arroyo said even prestigious medical institutions find it difficult to attract fresh graduates to fill up slots for doctors.

“The Academy shall provide the institutional mechanism for the envisioned sustained human resource development for the Philippine public health care system, while the scholarship program shall provide the financial and other education resource support mechanisms for the pursuit of studies in the field of medicine by deserving and qualified youth,” Arroyo said.

Under the bill, the government shall provide the physical, technical and financial resources to equip, man, and develop the U.P. College of Medicine as the institutional core of the Philippine Medical Academy.

Government shall provide funds for all the necessary expenses such as tuition, matriculation and all other school fees, prescribed textbooks and other educational supplies and equipment, board and lodging expenses, clothing and uniform allowances, traveling and other related miscellaneous living allowances of qualified entrants to the Academy and recipients of the scholarship program, they insisted.

A scholar shall undergo higher post-graduate internship in a public health and medical institution which shall be considered part of the mandatory public service.

Upon passing the medical board examination, the scholar shall commence integration into the public health service system and shall accordingly be given the appropriate rank and salary.

“Such integration into the public service system shall be required for a period equivalent to at least two years for each year of scholarship benefits received,” Arroyo pointed out.

The bill also provides for the creation of the Philippine Medical Academy Scholarship Board (PMASB) which shall administer the Academy, the scholarship and service program and shall be empowered to formulate, consolidate, integrate, systematize and implement all policies, rules and regulations and programs related to the intents of the proposed law.

The PMASB shall be composed of the Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education as Chairman of the Board; and as members: the Education Secretary; the Secretary of Health; the Secretary of the DBM; the President of the U.P. System; the Dean of the U.P. College of Medicine; the Executive Director of the PMASB Secretariat; and the Chairpersons of the Committees on Health of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

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