April 10, 2007
Recto calls for 'study-now-pay-later plan'
Senator Ralph Recto says government should seriously consider a plan to train more doctors to serve the chronic scarcity of physicians, noting that the exodus of practitioners has become a big problem as the population grows and more people need medical attention.
Recto stressed that as of October 2005, the country only had 98,210 registered doctors, a paltry number considering that the entire population is more than 82 million.
"Moreover, seven out of 10 Filipino doctors are working abroad while 6,000 have returned to school to study as nurses," he revealed.
"The country needs 10,000 new doctors by 2010 to satisfy the current shortage. Between 1,000 and 2,000 of these doctors would work overseas not as physicians but as nurses, to the detriment of millions of ailing Filipinos who need medical attention," Recto stressed.
To remedy the situation, Recto proposed a "study-now-pay later plan" that would encourage enrollment in medicine and impose a service scheme that would compel graduates to spend more time in the country not only to repay the cost of their medical training but also to serve Filipino patients, principally those in public hospitals.
"This plan calls for an educational subsidy that can be repaid by the physicians if they render several years of service in public hospitals or in rural health service," Recto explained.
Recto said the huge demand for nurses overseas who get paid highly has caused the number of medical students to decrease precipitously and this trend has sorry implications on the provision of adequate medical and health services to our people.
"A total of 23 medical schools have reported a more horrifying bit of information. The enrollment in these schools is down to 42 percent of their quota, meaning to say that 58 percent or more who are capable of medical training have opted to study as nurses," Recto explained.
"This is one reason why some medical schools are in danger of shutting down and could conceivably transform themselves into nursing schools. This is an anomalous situation that should be addressed by government," he added.
To illustrate just how bad the situation is, Recto revealed that the country had a total of only 1,723 hospitals in 2004, with 657 of them operated by the government and 1,066 managed by private corporations.
The overall bed capacity is 82,775, with government having 41,933 beds to 40,842 for the private sector.
These figures show the lack of beds for sick Filipinos and the situation would surely deteriorate if the country fails to produce enough doctors in the next three years.
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