Press Release
December 6, 2006


Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has filed a bill proposing the enactment of a new Physicians Act to replace the Medical Act of 1959 in order to revitalize, develop and sustain the practice of medicine in the Philippines.

In his explanatory note to Senate Bill No. 2125, Enrile noted that over the past several years, thousands of doctors have left the Philippines to work abroad, even as nurses.

"A study by the National Institute of Health [in 2005] revealed that at least 3,500 doctors have left the country since the year 2000 to work as nurses," said Enrile. "These figures were confirmed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency in its annual report where they indicated that health care professionals continue to dominate the nu8mber of professionals leaving the country every year."

He added that aside from the personal economic considerations of each doctor who seek greener pasture abroad are the prevailing political instability and the apparent lack on the part of the government to prioritize the health case system in the country. Undeniably, the health sector continues to receive one of the lowest allocations under the annual appropriations of the government.

Enrile cited the observation of the Health Alliance for Democracy that health care spending in the Philippines is 3.5 percent of the national budget, below the five percent recommended by the World Health Organization.

"We have now started to feel the effects of dwindling professional health care providers as the decision by many doctors to become nurses has aggravated the doctor-to-population ratio. While the ideal ratio is one doctor to every 6,000 Filipinos, there is now one for every 26,000," Enrile lamented. "Furthermore, reports from the Department of Health indicate that 42 towns in the country, belonging to the fifth and sixth income brackets, have remained without a doctor."

He said that as a result there is a need for Congress to undertake a much-needed review of the Medical Act of 1959. Thus his bill seeks to enact a new Physicians Act that will govern the regulation of the education, licensing and the practice of medicine by physicians here in the Philippines.

Enrile declared, "It is not only enough to address their economic concerns by increasing their pay and remuneration … it is also essential that an environment be provided for them where they can further cultivate and enhance their skills and expertise thereby upgrading the standards by which their practice shall be measured."

The bill provides for the creation of a Council on Medical Education to be headed by the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education. The council shall have the functions to determine the requirements for recognition as College of Medicine , including curriculum, physical facilities, teacher-to-student ratio and internship leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and the examination, registration and licensure of doctors.

It also prescribes penalties for fake doctors, cheating in examinations and violations of judicial ethics.

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