House OKs bills creating medical reserve corps

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
House OKs bills creating medical reserve corps
A House panel has approved bills seeking to create a national medical reserve corps to augment the country’s health personnel in case of pandemics and health emergencies.
STAR / Boy Santos, File

MANILA, Philippines  — A House panel has approved bills seeking to create a national medical reserve corps to augment the country’s health personnel in case of pandemics and health emergencies.
The committee on health, chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, created a technical working group to consolidate all eight bills to come up with a substitute version on the formation of a reserve national medical network.
“Medical reservists are needed in times like this when we are going through a COVID-19 pandemic. They are also needed in case of disasters,” Tan explained during the panel's virtual meeting last Thursday.
Tan, author of one of the bills, lamented that many hospitals in Metro Manila and other parts of the country are short of medical staff due to the current pandemic.
“Many of our healthcare workers are exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. They have to take a rest. This is one of the reasons why they called for a timeout three weeks ago. If we have a reserve force, they could temporarily take the place of tired health workers who have to take a break from toxic and risky work,” she stressed.
The ranking lawmaker, a physician by profession, added that the pandemic has “exposed the weaknesses of the country’s healthcare system, including its inability to cope with the surge of patients due to lack of medically-trained personnel.”
“The creation of a reserve medical corps will strengthen the national preparedness and response of the government to public health emergencies and reduce the adverse health, economic and social impact of pandemics on the Filipino people,” Tan stressed.
Under Tan’s Bill No. 7331, the Department of Health (DOH) would be mandated to organize the reserve medical network to be composed of licensed physicians, including those retired, graduates of medicine, medical students who have completed four years of medical course, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals.
The DOH would issue guidelines for the recruitment, compulsory and continuing training, compensation and incentives, and length of service of corps members.
The bill provides that the reserve group “shall be so organized, trained, developed, and maintained as to ensure its readiness to immediately respond to the call to service.” 
The DOH secretary would be authorized to issue such “to meet the needs of a disaster or health emergency, whether of local or national scale, and for other purposes necessary to respond to threats to public health.”
The other authors of the related bills are Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, and Representatives Joy Myra Tambunting of Parañaque, Alfred Vargas of Quezon City, David Suarez of Quezon, Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Paul Daza of Northern Samar, Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija, and Horacio Suansing of Sultan Kudarat.


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