Doktor para sa Bayan program needs P4.6-B budget

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian promised Tuesday that the , a scholarship program that aims to support the education of poor but qualified students who want to be doctors.

Gatchalian admitted in a public hearing that the estimated P4.6 billion for the Medical Scholarship Act or Doktor Para Sa Bayan bill was a substantial allocation.

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“Nakita rin namin na malaking pondo rin ang gagamitin at malaking pondo rin ang kakailanganin para mapadami po ang medical school sa ating bansa, pati ‘yung scholarship program,” Gatchalian said.

“Kami po, gagawin po namin ang aming makakaya para masiguradong mapondohan ito. Importante na meron tayong doktor sa bawat bayan at sa bawat sulok ng ating bansa,” he added.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Prospero De Vera III said Monday during the Senate budget hearing that the medical schools in the country would need a P4.6 billion funding for the Doktor para sa Bayan program.

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“So, this is the bare-bones budget that has been estimated to increase the number of medical students to about 5,368 per year,” De Vera told senators.

Doktor para sa Bayan program

The Senate recently passed on a 22-0 vote the Medical Scholarship Act or Doktor Para Sa Bayan bill. The government would pay tuition and other school fees, books, and allowance of qualified medical students.

The P4.6 billion would cover medical students’ tuition and other school fees, required textbooks, uniforms, and living allowances, among others, and establish more public medical schools nationwide.

Three schools were currently applying to offer the Doktor para a Bayan program: Cebu Normal University, Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City, and the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City.

“This measure comes at the most opportune time as our country continues to battle against the devastating health impacts of COVID-19. This law will help the healthcare system sector to be better prepared for similar health emergencies in the future,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, the lead author of the measure, announced the need for such a bill, especially since there are only nine public medical schools in the country. He also said the Philippines belonged to countries where medical education is expensive.

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