IN a move to address the scarcity of doctors in far-flung barrios in the country, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), various local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Health (DOH) have agreed to finance the studies of up to 250 qualified medical students per year.
PCSO acting chairman and general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd said the scholarship program for medical students will be fully implemented next year.
Under the agreement, the PCSO, DOH and LGUs will fully shoulder the matriculation and other expenses of qualified medical students for five years of schooling.
Rojas said at least 200 to 250 medical students throughout the country will be chosen every year.
“The program will help address our problem on the lack of doctors in many barrios,” Rojas told the Bulong Pulungan news forum on Tuesday.
He said the scholarship program will be for the “best of the best medical students” who will serve their respective areas after graduation.
Dr. Larry Cedro, assistant general manager for PCSO’s Charity Sector, said the funding will be sourced from the PCSO, DOH and partner LGUs.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the program will be an integrated and comprehensive one that seeks to solve the scarcity of doctors in the so-called doctorless barrios.
“It will be an integrated and comprehensive program wherein you can get the best minds and allow them to study in Manila,” he added.
After graduation, Ona said the scholars will be assigned to their respective barrios to render a 10-year service.
“We can see the day that we will not be lacking doctors anymore,” said Ona.
Meanwhile, Ona said 82 percent of Filipinos are now covered by PhilHealth while almost 100 percent of poor Filipinos or about 14.7 million are now benefitting from the state’s health insurance program.
He said government is also working to expand the coverage of PhilHealth to include “surrenderees” from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), senior citizens, street dwellers and persons with disabilities.