House okays medical scholarship bill on final reading

MANILA -- The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to establish a medical scholarship program to address the shortage of doctors in the country.

With 223 affirmative votes, members of the lower chamber approved House Bill 6571, or the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program Act.

The bill mandates the establishment of a medical scholarship and return service program for deserving students in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) or in private higher education institutions (PHEIs) in regions where there are no SUCs offering medicine.

At least one scholar from each municipality in the country shall be accepted. If there is no qualified applicant from a certain municipality, another qualified applicant shall be considered.

The financial assistance granted to scholars include free tuition and other school fees; allowance for prescribed books, supplies and equipment; clothing allowance; dormitory allowance; transportation allowance; internship fees; medical board review fees; and annual medical insurance; among others.

The mandatory return service upon integration into the public health and medical service system shall be for at least eight years, or two years for every scholarship year availed of, upon passing the licensure examination for physicians.

A medical student may lose the scholarship and shall pay the full cost of the scholarship and related benefits if he or she accepts another scholarship; fails to meet the academic requirements, or fails to pass the licensure examination for the second time.

Furthermore, a medical student who fails or refuses to serve in a government hospital or any local health office in the scholar's hometown or any underserved municipality shall be required to pay twice the full cost of the scholarship including other benefits and expenses incurred.

In case of non-payment, the PRC shall deny the renewal of the physician's license.

Source: Philippine News Agency