April 14, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has signed,  on Dec. 20, the law establishing the college of medicine at the Benguet State University.

Republic Act 11970 was passed together with three other laws that would establish three other College of Medicine at Southern Luzon State University in Lucban, Quezon (RA 11971); University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Northern Samar (RA11972); and at the Visayas State University in Baybay, Leyte (RA 11974).

Authored by Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, RA 11970 aims to address the significant gap in medical education in the Cordillera.

The college of medicine was envisioned to provide residents of Benguet and neighboring provinces an opportunity to pursue quality medical education and training without the need to relocate to distant cities.

Yap said although BSU, renowned for its academic excellence and is currently designated as a state university and college (SUC) level IV institution by the Commission on Higher Education, does not have a medical school until now.

Yap said the absence of medical education institutions in the region has been a long-standing challenge.

Based from the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges report in June 2021, only two out of the 58 medical colleges are situated in the Cordillera and the scarcity of medical schools in the region has led to a considerable financial burden on aspiring doctors, forcing them to bear the costs of transportation and accommodation in pursuit of their medical education.

With the enactment of RA 11970, Yap said the establishment of the BSU College of Medicine is expected to alleviate these challenges.

RA 11970 is anchored on the Doktor para sa Bayan Act, which establishes a medical scholarship and return service program for students in SUCs to combat the shortage of doctors in the country. According to World Bank data, there is one physician for every 1,000 Filipinos.

BSU held its groundbreaking ce-remony on Sept. 25 for the College of Medicine complex located within the university lot.

The BSU College of Medicine complex will house the college of medicine building, the medical research center and primary healthcare centers.

The complex will also implement green engineering and architecture through installation of a rainwater harvesting facility, floating garden, operable windows and solar panels that will make it sustainable.

The BSU Board  of Regents came up with a 10-year plan to include the establishment of the complex as well as the strategic programs for the college.