Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday said producing doctors will cost a fraction of the government’s P9.6- billion intelligence and confidential fund, but will yield a “high ROI or return of investment” in a country that lacks public health physicians and faces an ageing population.
He said this is one of the many reasons why government should finance the studies of doctors “and not leave it to family incomes or what the pocket can afford.”
“It is certainly lower than this year’s P9.6 billion Intelligence and Confidential Fund, a fraction of the P20.1 billion Travel Fund, and a drop in the bucket of the P1.2 trillion Personal Services budget,” Recto said.
Recto said if the budgets of many “inconsequential agencies are seen as an expense vital to democracy, then why should medical scholarships be disparaged as a nonessential luxury?”
With a population of 106.9 million, the country lacks 78,400 doctors, according to a Department of Health report based on a 10 doctors per 10,000 people ratio.
“But we have to look beyond the present shortages, and also brace for the future,” Recto said. “This is about future-proofing our country, so we can serve both ends of the demographic scale.”
“On one end is that four babies are born every minute in this land; 6,120 every 24 hours. 2.23 million a year. We love babies so much that we produce them in an industrial scale,” Recto said in his vote speech on the Medical Scholarship Bill the Senate passed on Monday.
Sen. Sonny Angara said the approval of the Medical Scholarships Bill is very timely since the country’s health system is facing so much pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need more doctors to attend to the growing needs of our kababayans. We have been filing this bill in previous congresses and pushed for the continuous inclusion of provisions in the national budget for medical scholarships in our state universities and colleges,” said Angara.
“We believe that our underprivileged but deserving students, who wish to provide for a better life for their families and to serve the
country and its people as physicians, should be given the opportunity to do so,” he added.
He said that it is through their dedicated service that our healthcare system becomes more resilient, and gains a better chance of withstanding any pandemic.
“Ultimately, that is what this bill aims to achieve--a more resilient Philippines. We congratulate Senate President Sotto as the principal author, and Senator Joel Villanueva for ushering the passage of this bill as its sponsor,” added Angara.