MANILA, Philippines - Bringing in a bone specialist from abroad to treat Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's bone disease may cost millions of pesos, compared to the hundreds of Filipino medical experts who can treat her illness successfully, a Philippine Medical Association (PMA) official said Wednesday.
Dr. Leo Olarte, a PMA governor, said a specialist practicing overseas would charge more than the usual, since he or she would be forfeiting cases abroad, where professional fees are higher.
Olarte added that a special license would have to be secured for the specialist to practice in the Philippines.
"A foreign physician can be allowed in special circumstances. They can be allowed to treat a patient here in the Philippines," he said. "Hihingi lang po sila ng special permit from the Professional Regulation Commission board of medicine.
Although the PMA respects Arroyo's right to seek medical treatment abroad, Olarte reiterated that there are competent doctors in the Philippines who can help the former President.
Hundreds of specialists in Philippines
"There are plenty of orthopedic surgeons, more or less about 600 orthopedic surgeons in the Philippines and more or less more than 100 endocrinologists and metabolic bone experts who can adequately treat Arroyo," he told ANC on Wednesday.
He said such specialists were involved in Arroyo's operations. "They were present in the first, second, third operations and those operations were very risky and very complicated. But nevertheless, she survived and she's now well regaining her health and already to the path of being cured."
Olarte added that Philippine hospitals are equipped to treat Arroyo. "We have all the facilities, especially metabolic bone experts to do the bone biopsies. We have all the radio isotopes and bone scanners in Manila and they can all be used to treat adequately the disease, hypothyroidism, of Arroyo."
He said Philippine doctors are at par with their counterparts in the United States and Spain.
"What they have in the US, we have it here in Philippines. We can treat it. We have the experts, the endocrinologists and experts who can treat Arroyo," he stressed.
"We are equal in competence, skills [compared to] other doctors in the world, but what the PMA can say is that we respect the patient's right to choose her doctor, her trust and confidence. Meaning to say she can go to any doctor, physician, wherever the physician is to seek medical consultation and treatment. We respect that," Olarte added.
He also described Arroyo's needed bone biopsy as a simple procedure.
"It's a simple procedure we do everyday here in the Philippines. "What I can say is it's very simple compared to the 3 operations she had undergone before," he said. "It's merely an out-patient procedure, (Arroyo) need not be confined."
He added that the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism's website has a listing of all the specialists in the field. "They can choose any of the specialists there with trust and confidence." - reports from ANC