As the country faces higher demand for healthcare workers due to COVID-19 pandemic, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday, May 13, expressed his support to the bill, sponsored by fellow senator Joel Villanueva and whose principal author is Senate President Vicente Sotto III, establishing a Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for deserving Filipino students who want to serve the country in the field of medicine.
In a speech during the Senate regular session, Go recounted his experience as the personal aide of President Rodrigo Duterte during his time as mayor of Davao City where he witnessed the need for a holistic approach when it comes to health care.
“We visited the sick, we helped the poor and Mayor Duterte did his best to address the healthcare situation in Davao City, which is why you can see how progressive and responsive our health care is in the south,” Go said.
“My duty came with many realizations. One of which is that addressing health care must be taken through a holistic approach,” he added.
The Senator mentioned that the proposed measure will complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program of the government by ensuring more doctors in the provinces.
“This vision is also in line with the Balik Probinsya Program that I have proposed and was already approved by the executive department,” Go 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,” he added.
Go cited the adequate supply of healthcare workers in the country, such as doctors and nurses, as one of the ways to promote a holistic approach to resolving the country’s healthcare woes.
“Isa sa mga dapat sikapin nating itaguyod ay ang pagpapadami ng ating healthcare workers sa bansa,” he said, also noting that the country’s doctor-to-patient ratio remains severely strained.
“Aminado dapat tayo na kulang tayo sa mga doctor, lalong lalo na sa mga probinsya. Ang ating doctor-to-patient ratio ay hindi makakasustento sa tugon ng pangkalusugan sa ating bansa,” he said.
Go added that the ongoing global pandemic has resulted in the deaths of some of the country’s healthcare professionals.
“Higit pa, sa krisis na kinakaharap natin ngayon, maraming doctor at medical professionals ang naisakripisyo ang kanilang buhay. Nabawasan pa tayo,” he said.
Through the Medical Scholarship bill, Go hopes to assist students who would like to study medicine, thereby increasing the future number of doctors in the country.
“Aminin din natin na hindi mura ang pag-aaral ng medisina ngunit maraming Pilipino ang gustong kumuha ng kursong to.
“Through the Medical Scholarship bill, 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. This scholarship will cater deserving Filipino students in state universities and colleges and in partner private higher education institutions in regions where there are no state universities or colleges offering the medicine course,” he added.
Go explained that the scholarship will require a return service equivalent to the number of years the students have been also assisted by the medical scholarship program.
“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.
Ending his message, Go asked the government to continue helping Filipinos who want to serve the country as doctors by allowing them to benefit from the bill.
“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 lalo na sa probinsya. Sabi nila, edukasyon ang sagot sa kahirapan. Para sa akin, edukasyon ang daan natin para sa kaunlaran,” Go said.
“Maraming Pilipino ang gustong tumulong at magserbisyo para sa isang malusog na Pilipinas. Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang kabataang Pilipino na makapag-aral ng kursong ito at makapaglingkod bilang doctor sa bansa,” he added.
Emphasizing that the passage of the bill will significantly improve the healthcare system in the country, Go then urged his fellow senators to support the measure.
“Hinihimok ko ang lahat ng naririto na suportahan natin ang Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program. I would like to commend the good sponsor for pushing for this measure and I also wish to convey my intention to be a co-author of this significant legislation,” Go said.
“Better health care 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,” he ended.