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STUDY MEDICINE FOR FREE – ANGARA

Senator Sonny Angara has encouraged new graduates and other Filipino youth who want to become a doctor to take advantage of the medical scholarship program offered by the government.

“Karamihan sa atin ay nangarap maging doktor noong mga bata pa tayo. Pero dahil sa malaking gastusin sa pagme-medisina, nanatili nalang itong pangarap para sa ating mga mahihirap na kababayan. Ngayon, posible na itong matupad,” said Angara, a known advocate of education reform.

According to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), of the PhP 317 million that it allocated for the medical scholarship program, only PhP 122 million was utilized for the first semester of academic year 2017-2018.

This translated to a total of 2,163 medical students with free tuition from eight state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country, which include the University of Northern Philippines, Mariano Marcos State University, Cagayan State University, Bicol University, West Visayas State University, University of the Philippines (UP) Leyte, Mindanao State University, and UP Manila.

For this school year, the CHED had to scale down its budget for the medical scholarship program to PhP 250 million, given the low number of enrollees who availed of the medical scholarships last year.

“We want to see an increase in the budget of our medical scholarship program if it means that we will have more doctors serving in our country, especially in far-flung communities that badly need better healthcare services,” said Angara, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee who sponsored CHED’s budget.

We want to see an increase in the budget of our medical scholarship program if it means that we will have more doctors serving in our country.

Beneficiaries of CHED’s tuition subsidy will be required to render one year of return service in the Philippines for every year of cash grant received. They can serve as doctors in government or private hospitals, local government health facilities or become doctors to the barrios.

Angara is also the author of a Medical Scholarship bill that seeks to cover tuition and other school fees, allowance for prescribed books, supplies and equipment, clothing and uniform, housing accommodation, transportation and other related miscellaneous living allowances.

Under Angara’s Senate Bill 1157, there shall be at least one beneficiary from every province in the country. The number of beneficiaries per province shall depend on the number of medical doctors needed for each province as determined by the Department of Health (DOH).

Beneficiaries will be required to serve their provincial hospital for at least five years upon passing the medical board examination.

Recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that three out of five Filipinos die without seeing a doctor, nurse or any other allied health professional.

Data from the UP College of Medicine showed that about 80 percent of its graduates leave the country to practice medicine abroad.

“The high cost of med school drives new doctors to join private hospitals or work abroad which offer higher pay. This bill seeks to address the continuing need for doctors in our provincial public hospitals,” Angara said.

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