Press Release
September 16, 2020

Recto: Graying PH needs more MDs whose studies cost a fraction of intel fund

Producing doctors will cost a fraction of the government's "intelligence and confidential" fund, but will yield a "high ROI or return of investment" in a country that lacks public health physicians and faces an ageing population.

This was pointed out by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto as one of the many reasons why government should finance the studies of doctors "and not leave it to family incomes or what the pocket can afford."

"It is certainly lower than this year's P9.6 billion Intelligence and Confidential Fund, a fraction of the P20.1 billion Travel Fund, and a drop in the bucket of the P1.2 trillion Personal Services budget," Recto said.

Recto said if the budgets of many "inconsequential agencies are seen as an expense vital to democracy, then why should medical scholarships be disparaged as a nonessential luxury?"

With a population of 106.9 million, the country lacks 78,400 doctors, according to a Department of Health report based on a 10 doctors per 10,000 people ratio.

"But we have to look beyond the present shortages, and also brace for the future," Recto said. "This is about future-proofing our country, so we can serve both ends of the demographic scale."

"On one end is that four babies are born every minute in this land. 6,120 every 24 hours. 2.23 million a year. We love babies so much that we produce them in an industrial scale," Recto said in his vote speech on the Medical Scholarship Bill the Senate passed on Monday.

The other end of the spectrum is that we are a graying country, Recto said. Two decades ago, there were only 4.6 million Filipinos 60 years and older. Today, there are nearly 10 million.

"Today, seniors account for 8.6 percent of our population. By 2050, their share will be about 16.5 percent," Recto said.

He said one disease alone that hits the elderly - dementia - already costs the world economy US1 trillion and will double by 2030.

"Although we have yet to forecast how much this disease would cost our economy, there is no doubt it would be also high in our country. So this is the future that we have to brace for," Recto said.

Recto said more physicians embedded in communities would mean more champions of primary and preventive medicine on the ground.

"The stress on the preventative will nip sickness in the bud, and from a fiscal health point of view, save money for the government," he said.

"Not all prescriptions are of the pharmaceutical kind. For example, ask any cardio and he will tell you that a jog today may keep the Lipitor away," he said.

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