/ 18 June 2021

SENATOR Joel Villanueva on Thursday called for the immediate implementation of the medical scholarship program and urged the Commission on Higher Education, and the Departments of Health and Budget to release the implementing rules and regulations.

Villanueva, the principal sponsor and author of the Doktor Para Sa Bayan law, said the medical scholarship program, when fully implemented, will double the number of medicine graduates and will bring medical services closer to far-flung communities through the return service program.

“Coming from the pandemic, this is the most important health insurance we should have,” the senator said in a statement.

“Tulad po ng mga ating mga government projects, do not delay rin po ang panawagan natin sa implementasyon ng Doktor para sa Bayan law, alang-alang sa buhay at kalusugan ng ating mamamayan,” he added. “We hope that the IRR is released just before the Academic Year opens in the next few months.”

He explained that there are only 3 practicing doctors for every 10,000 Filipinos, but the ratio is higher in rural communities because there are more doctors in urban areas.

The Doktor Para Sa Bayan law seeks to address this problem by consolidating and harmonizing all state medical scholarship programs under a single Medical Scholarship and Return Service program.

The scholarship covers tuition and other school fees; books, supplies, and equipment; clothing, dormitory and transportation allowances; internship, medical board review and licensure fees; and a monthly stipend.

Once scholars obtain their licenses, they “repay” the state by serving as physicians in underserved communities and government facilities.

Villanueva said two state universities have been allowed to open their medical schools — Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga Peninsula, and Cebu Normal University in Cebu. This brings to 10 the number of SUCs offering medical programs.

Villanueva urged CHED to create a website on the scholarship program that will serve as a one-stop information center and application portal.