Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, principal sponsor and author of the Doktor Para sa Bayan law, assured the timely passage of related bills creating five additional medical schools expected to mitigate a looming “shortage of doctors” in order to address future health needs of the Filipinos, “especially in the regions.”
With more schools producing doctors, Villanueva is optimistic that the Philippines will be closer to achieving the ideal ratio prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 10 doctors per 10,000 population by making quality medicine courses affordable and accessible to the students.
“Marami pong nangangarap maging doktor pero walang pampaaral,” the senator noted. “Kailangang bigyan daan po ng gobyerno na maabot ang pangarap ng ating mga kabataang kapos ngunit may kakayahan,” Villanueva said, assuring mitigating measures are available and being lined up.
The Senate Majority leader cited, for instance, Republic Act No. 11509, the Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act, which Villanueva principally sponsored and authored, adding that 17 State Universities and Colleges (SUC) in 13 regions are now offering courses under their College of Medicine from eight SUCs in seven regions prior to the passage of the law.
Under the law, each region must have at least one SUC offering medical education within five years from the effectivity of the Act. It also seeks to produce more physicians by offering qualified students free tuition, book, living and other allowances.
The law requires the scholars to serve in public health facilities for at least one year for every scholarship year availed. “When we passed the Doktor Para Sa Bayan law, we did not aim only to have more scholars, but also to increase the number of SUCs that will offer medical courses, and this is what we are pursuing now,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva said the country is in dire need of medical professionals to attend to its growing population and to future-proofing the country against diseases following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Health earlier said at least 114,000 more physicians and 127,000 nurses are needed to be able to provide optimal healthcare to the Filipinos.