MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday expressed full support for the immediate passage of a bill seeking to establish a Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program (MSRSP) for poor but deserving Filipino students who want to serve the country in the field of medicine.
In his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1520, or the Medical Scholarship Act, Go recounted his experience as a long-time personal aide of then-Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We visited the sick, we helped the poor and Mayor Duterte did his best to address the health care situation in Davao City. My duty came with many realizations, one of which is that addressing health care must be taken through a holistic approach,” Go said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Health said that among the vital issues that needed to be addressed is on how to increase the number of health care workers in the country, especially the number of doctors in the countryside.
The demand for more medical health care workers is further magnified by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, he said, as many doctors and medical professionals have sacrificed their lives to save the victims of the dreaded virus.
“Nabawasan pa tayo (We were further diminished),” Go said, referring to the medical front-liners who lost their lives in the line of duty.
He said passing SB 1520 is of utmost urgency to improve the country’s healthcare system.
“This will pave way for us to substantially support the number of our doctors in the country and particularly, increase the number of doctors in the provinces or regions they belong, or as identified by the Department of Health,” he said.
The objective of the measure is also in line with his proposed Balik Probinsya Program that has been institutionalized through Executive Order No. 114.
“Mr. President, kapag natapos natin ang laban sa Covid-19, malaki ang papel na dapat gampanan ng ating gobyerno sa pagpapataas ng bilang ng doctor sa bansa lalong-lalo na po sa mga probinsya (once we have won the fight against Covid-19, the government will play a big role in increasing the number of doctors in the country, especially in the provinces),” he said.
“Once we have more doctors in the provinces, we can assure Filipinos that a better life is waiting for them in the rural community,” Go said.
Once enacted into law, the Medical Scholarship Bill will cater to deserving Filipino students in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and in partnership with private higher education institutions in regions where there are no SUCs offering the medicine course.
Beneficiaries of the scholarship must have a family income “not sufficient” to support medical education.
Under the measure, the student will be assisted financially, covering their tuition and other school fees; allowance for prescribed books, supplies and equipment; clothing or uniform allowance; among others.
Once beneficiaries pass the licensure exam for physicians, they must provide a return service equivalent to the years they have been also assisted by the medical scholarship program.
“Sabi nila, edukasyon ang sagot sa kahirapan. Para sa akin, edukasyon ang daan natin para sa kaunlaran… Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang kabataang Pilipino na makapag-aral ng kursong ito at makapaglingkod bilang doctor sa bansa (They say education is the answer to poverty, For me, education is our path to development. Let’s give the Filipino youth the opportunity to earn this degree and serve as doctors in the country),” Go said, as he urged his colleagues to support the MSRSP.
“Better healthcare requires a strong backbone of doctors and health professionals. If we do this, we can establish a better healthcare system and ultimately a better Philippines,” Go said. (IA/PNA)