February 3, 2023

The House of Representatives ratified on Oct. 15 the final draft of the Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) Program Act or the “Doktor para sa Bayan Act.”

Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, one of the authors and chair of the House Committee on Technical and Higher Education, said the House contingent and the Senate reconciled the provisions of House Bill 6756 and Senate Bill 1520 in a bicameral conference meeting.

HB 6756 was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on Aug. 10 while the Senate passed SB 1520 on Sept. 14.

The final draft 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 that 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.

He added with the goal of producing at least one doctor for each municipality, the landmark legislation is crucial in strengthening the country’s healthcare system.

The bill will be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s approval. – Press release