The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao needs more government physicians, a legislator from the area said on Monday.
Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said the number of government physicians in the region is inadequate for the efficient delivery of health services to the residents.
“The municipalities, cities and provinces that make up BARMM are some of the poorest areas in our country today. And because of this, we also have some of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios,” Hataman said.
At the same time, Hataman urged the Commission on Higher Education to explain why, in 2018, not a single centavo was disbursed from the P250-million Student Financial Assistance Program and Subsidy for Tuition Fees of Medical Students in state universities and colleges.
“I call on CHED to be proactive in seeking medical scholars who will stay in the barrios once they become doctors,” Hataman said.
In 2011, the then ARMM average of the doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:45,224, with Basilan having a 1:58,664 rate, according to figures from the Mindanao Development Authority and the Department of Health. Recent data shows that the ARMM average is now at 1:45,197, with Basilan having at least seven doctors serving a population of 346,579. The national average is at 1:33,000.
“Add these low figures to the fact that six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor and we can surmise the sorry state of our health care system not only in ARMM, but in other poor areas in the country as well. This has to change and it has to change now,” Hataman said.
The Commission on Audit has recently hit CHED for the underutilization of its budget on vital educational projects that included the subsidy for medical students. In 2018, of the P250-million allotment for the program, only P55.87 million was obligated, but no actual disbursement was made.
According to a COA report, CHED explained that students did not pursue the subsidy under the program and opted for the DOH’s more comprehensive scholarship instead that included lab fees, miscellaneous and other allowances.