Senate bill proposes UP scholarship for aspiring doctors
MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to establish a medical scholarship program to address the lack of quality doctors serving in far-flung areas in the country has been filed in the Senate.
Under Senate Bill Number 1157, a scholarship program at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) would be created that would admit at least one beneficiary from every province into the school.
The number of beneficiaries per province would depend on the number of doctors needed per area as determined by the Department of Health (DOH), according to Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, the bill's author, in a statement Sunday, December 18.
The said scholarship would include free tuition and other school fees, book allowance, supplies and equipment, clothing and uniform, lodging, transportation, and other miscelleaneous living allowances.
The scholars would be required to serve their respective provincial hospitals for at least 5 years upon passing the medical board examination. Should a scholar fail to finish the course, the student would be required to pay the full amount amount of the scholarship that has been given.
“The lack or the maldistribution of doctors and healthcare professionals in the country is very alarming. Most doctors and medical specialists are concentrated in urban centres and larger municipalities, leaving far-flung communities largely unserved,” said Angara in the statement.
Presently, DOH data showed that there is only one doctor for every 33,000 Filipinos. The World Health Organization’s standard is one doctor for every 20,000 citizens.
The Philippine Statistics Authority noted that 3 out of 5 Filipinos die without seeing any medical professional. (READ: Where are the health doctors?)
UPCM data also showed that 80% of its graduates practice medicine overseas.
“The high cost of study of medicine prompts new doctors to join private hospitals which offer higher pay. More lucrative opportunities abroad also lead to an exodus of medical professionals. This bill seeks to reverse these trends and address the continuing need for doctors in our provincial public hospitals,” Angara said. – Rappler.com