MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a law that creates a scholarship and return service program for medical students, according to a document released on Tuesday, as the Philippines continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The "Doktor Para sa Bayan Act" will help "deserving" students pursue medical education and training. They will "eventually render services in government hospitals in their hometown or in any municipality in their home province or in any underserved municipality," said the President.
"Qualified applicants from municipalities without government physicians shall be prioritized in the allocation of scholarship slots to ensure the assignment of at least one doctor for every municipality in the country," Duterte ordered.
The medical scholarship and return service program in state universities and colleges or partner private higher education institutions shall cover the following, the President said.
- Free tuition and other school fees
- Allowance for prescribed books, supplies and equipment
- Clothing or uniform allowance
- Allowance for dormitory or boarding house accomodation
- Transportation allowance
- Internship fees
- Medical board review fees
- Licensure fees
- Annual medical insurance
- Other education-related miscellaneous subsistence or living expenses
told reporters in an online briefing.
The law will address the shortage of doctors in the country, a matter that the coronavirus pandemic brought to light, Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education earlier said.
There are currently 207 municipalities in the country without physicians, and this was highlighted when about 55 to 60 percent of those who died from COVID-19 did not even reach hospitals, he said.
The country lacks around 79,000 doctors, said Villanueva.
"We’re excited about this and we are looking at bridging the gap of the doctors that we need in the country," he told ANC's Headstart.
Read the full law here: