Bill on medical scholarship seeks to address brain drain

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    A BILL seeking to address brain drain at the Department of Health has been filed at the House.

    House Bill No. 4315 of Rep. Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon party list group) is pushing for the establishment of a medical scholarship program and provides for a return service program for deserving students who had to drop out of school for financial reasons.

    “Doctors are more enticed to practice in big cities, where technology and money are present, than in rural communities, causing maldistribution of medical doctors and other allied medical professionals in the country,” Herrera said.

    She said the lack of physicians can also be attributed to the high cost of medicine as a course in college and the exodus of physicians for further training or experience and for better pay.

    “Doctors are the drivers of the health care system and if there is a shortage of doctors, the system can fail,” she said.

    HB No. 4315 aims to establish a state-sponsored medical scholarship program which, on top of free tuition, will also provide allowances for books, supplies and equipment, uniform and transportation; dormitory or boarding house accommodation; internship and board review fees; and, other education-related miscellaneous subsistence or living allowances.

    The scholarship program shall accept at least one student from each municipality in the country.

    Upon passing the licensure examination for physicians, the mandatory return service of the scholars shall be for a period equivalent to at least eight years.

    The scholars must serve in a government public health office or government hospital in their hometown or in any underserved municipality within or closest to their home province.

    If the scholar fails or refuses to comply with the mandatory return service, he or she will be required to pay twice the full cost of scholarship. In cases of non-payment, the physician shall be denied renewal of license.

    “The passage of this bill does not only provide our medical students an opportunity to fulfill their dream to become a doctor. This will also provide for an institutional mechanism for sustained human resource development for the public health care system in the whole country,” Herrera said.