Sep 14, 2020

On Sept. 14, Senate Bill No. 1520 or the Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act was approved in the Senate during its third and final reading with a unanimous 22-0 vote.

A timely proposal with the pandemic posing a crisis regarding the number and availability of medical workers in the country, Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act aims to provide scholarships to aspiring doctors and make medical education more accessible. 

Through the bill, eligible students from state universities and colleges as well as partner private schools will have their tuition and other miscellaneous expenses covered in full. This also includes fees for their internship, medical board review and licensure exam.

In exchange for the scholarship, students must “serve in the country’s public health system, providing a return-of-service equivalent to one year for every year of inclusion in the scholarship” upon graduating.

According to Senator Joel Villanueva who co-authored and sponsored the bill with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, this is to address the poor doctor-to-patient ratio in the country. According to data presented by the senator, we currently have 2.6 doctors for every 10,000 people, which is far from the ideal ratio of 10 doctors per 10,000 people.

Aside from providing scholarships, the Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act will also encourage state universities and colleges to partner with government hospitals to serve as training institutions. 

“With this bill, our hope is to help improve the access of our students to medical education. We know for a fact that it is costly, and some even need to live away from their homes to be near. We are removing these major obstacles to help our students achieve their dreams and for our people to have better access to medical attention,” said Villanueva in his statement.

Meanwhile, Sotto said, “Ang pagsasabatas ng Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act ang unang hakbang para patuloy na maging matagumpay at mamayagpag ang ating mga kabataang nais na maging mga doktor.”

According to the Department of Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-an today, the government still needs to hire 1,831 nurses to help with the current health crisis. He also admitted that the country is currently short of physical therapists, medical technologists and respiratory therapists, among other positions in the healthcare industry.


Header photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

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TAGS: doctor doctor scholarships Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act frontliners medical frontliners medical student scholarships scholarships Senate Bill Senate Bill No. 1520