Press Release
August 31, 2018

Zero budget for medical scholarship program

Senator Sonny Angara has vowed to push for the funding of the medical scholarship program to address the shortage of doctors in the country.

For this school year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has allocated P250 million to subsidize the tuition fee of medical students in eight state universities and colleges.

For next school year, the CHED has requested P167 million for the continuation of the said program.

However, under the 2019 National Expenditure Program submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the CHED's medical scholarship program received zero funding.

"Sisiguruhin po natin na mapopondohan ang medical scholarship program ng CHED. Six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor, nurse or any other allied health professional. The lack and the maldistribution of doctors and healthcare professionals in the country is truly alarming," said Angara, finance committee vice chairperson who will sponsor and defend the CHED budget.

The senator pointed out that most doctors and medical specialists are concentrated in urban centers and larger municipalities, leaving far-flung communities largely unserved.

The CHED had to scale down the budget for its medical scholarship program from P250 million to P167 million due to the low number of students who availed of the free tuition in eight SUCs.

"The current medical scholarship program of CHED is limited to granting free tuition. Based on studies, tuition is just 20-30% of the total cost of studying.

"Students will be more attracted to enroll if we expand this program to include miscellaneous and laboratory fees, living subsidy and allowances for lodging, transportation, book and uniform. Hindi dapat maging hadlang ang malaking gastusin para makapagtapos sila ng kursong medisina," Angara said.

Given the uncertainties in funding, the lawmaker stressed the need to institutionalize the medical scholarship program through his bill.

Under Senate Bill 1157, the medical scholarship program will include free tuition and other school fees, as well as allowances.

The proposed measure provides that the program shall accept at least one beneficiary from every province in the country. It also requires beneficiaries to serve their provincial hospital for at least five years upon passing the medical board examination.

"There is an urgent need to address the shortage of doctors as we move closer to implementing Universal Health Care that will provide free check-ups and laboratory tests for all Filipinos. Ano ang silbi ng Universal Health Care kung wala naman tayong sapat na mga doktor," Angara said.

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