Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said the passage of the bills creating five additional medical schools will help mitigate the shortage of doctors and address the future health needs of Filipinos.
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 of 10 doctors per 10,000 population by making quality medicine courses affordable and accessible to the students.
Villanueva, principal sponsor and author of the Doktor para sa Bayan Law, said many are dreaming of becoming doctors but cannot do so because of financial constraints.
“Marami pong nangangarap maging doktor pero walang pampaaral. Kailangang bigyan daan po ng gobyerno na maabot ang pangarap ng ating mga kabataang kapos ngunit may kakayahan.”
Through Republic Act No. 11509 or the Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act, which Villanueva principally sponsored and authored, 17 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 13 regions are now offering courses under their College of Medicine, from eight (8) SUCs in seven (7) 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.
The Majority Leader co-sponsored the measures and manifested his full support to Senator Chiz Escudero, Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education Chairperson and sponsor of the measures. The bills are up for third and final reading on Monday.
The bills propose to establish a College of Medicine in the campuses of Benguet State University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University-South La Union Campus, Southern Luzon State University, Visayas State University, and University of Eastern Philippines.
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.
“Sabi po ng maraming bata, gusto nilang mag-doktor. Dapat po may eskwelahan sa lugar nila kung saan pwede mag-aral, at kung kwalipikado, dapat po libre. Dito, hindi po mawawala ang pangarap nilang maging tagapagligtas ng buhay,” Villanueva said. (30)