Villanueva: P2.6-B boost for ‘Doktor para sa Bayan’ program to bring in more medicine scholars in SUCs next year

Villanueva: P2.6-B boost for ‘Doktor para sa Bayan’ program to bring in more medicine scholars in SUCs next year

Sen. Joel Villanueva

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – Funding for medical scholarships will be boosted to about
P2.6 billion in 2022, as the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, which aims to
produce thousands of physicians, goes on full blast, the law’s
principal sponsor, Senator Joel Villanueva, said today.

Villanueva said the P2.6 billion will be distributed to the state
universities offering M.D. program, the Department of Health (DOH),
and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

A total of 16 state universities will share about P1.3 billion either
to expand the program or as support in their application to offer M.D.
program.

The Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, or Republic Act No. 11509, aims to
produce more physicians by offering more scholarship opportunities to
students. Scholars receive free tuition and allowances, including
costs of undergoing review for the licensure exams.

The law provides for a return service mechanism where the scholar
“shall be integrated into the public health and medical service system
and shall receive the appropriate civil service rank, salary and
related benefits. The scholar shall serve in a government public
health office, government hospital, or any accredited government
health facility … for at least one year for every scholarship year
availed of.”

The current ratio of doctors-to-population is about 3 doctors for
every 10,000 population, while the objective is to increase the ratio
to 10:10,000 to match the standards set by the World Health
Organization.

“Kailangan po ng 12,165 medicine graduates kada taon para marating ang
10:10,000 sa taong 2030. Sa kasalukuyan, mayroon pong 7 rehiyon sa
bansa ang walang SUC na nagooffer ng med school, at maraming
munisipalidad ang walang doktor,” Villanueva said.

Among the SUCs that will receive funds to set up a college of
medicine is Cavite State University, Batangas State University, and
Isabela State University in Luzon while University of Southern
Mindanao and Mindanao State University – General Santos will be given
funds to set up their college of medicine in Mindanao.

“We have specifically earmarked the amounts that these SUCs can use to
jumpstart their M.D. program,” Villanueva said.

Other SUCs that run established physician education programs, such as
the University of the Philippines-Manila and West Visayas State
University in Iloilo, as well as the Mariano Marcos State University
in Ilocos Norte, have also been appropriated funds for “program
expansion,” Villanueva explained.

The three newly-established medicine programs at Cebu Normal
University, Western Mindanao State University, and the University of
Southeastern Philippines also received additional funding for next
year, according to the lawmaker.

Because it runs its own medical scholarship program, DOH will get P374
million next year to pay for tuition and allowances of scholars
enrolled in private and public medical schools.

For its part, CHED’s three programs in support of the state medical
scholarship program is poised to receive almost P1 billion next
year.

According to the Senate version of the 2022 national budget, CHED will
get P500 million for its “medical scholarship and return service
program,” P167 million in financial subsidy to medical students, and
P250 million as “seed fund” for SUCs that will be offering medical
programs.

Villanueva said the COVID pandemic provided the “rationale and impetus
to seriously invest in training future doctors.”

“Our growing population, especially the large aging sector, compels
us to produce physicians in enough numbers,” he said. (ai/mtvn)

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