THE House of Representatives ratified on October 15 the Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) Program Act, also known as the "Doktor Para sa Bayan Act."
Baguio City Representative Mark Go, one of the authors and chairman of the House Committee on Technical and Higher Education, said the House contingent and the Senate reconciled provisions between House Bill (HB) 6756 and Senate Bill 1520 in a bicameral conference meeting.
HB 6756, also known as the Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) Program Act, was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on August 10, while the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 1520, or the "Doktor para sa Bayan" bill, on September 14.
The final copy mandates the government to grant medical scholarships to deserving students, prioritizing qualified applicants from municipalities without government physicians.
Scholars are required to finish the Doctor of Medicine Program within a prescribed time frame, and will serve in their hometowns in a return service program. The length of return service shall be equivalent to the graduates' years under the scholarship grant.
The bill also proposes to cover tuition and other school fees, allowance for books, equipment, and uniforms, dormitory and transportation costs, internship fees, as well as medical board review and licensure fees.
Scholars will also receive annual medical insurance and other education-related subsistence or living allowances.
Go said the bill ensures pursuing medicine is no longer a far-fetched dream for underprivileged yet deserving students, who wish to rise above their circumstances and serve their respective communities.
Go added that with the goal of producing at least one doctor for each municipality, this landmark legislation is crucial in strengthening the country's healthcare system.
The bill will be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's approval. (SunStar Baguio)