Lawmaker seeks to allow foreign doctors to temporarily practice in Philippines

Lawmaker seeks to allow foreign doctors to temporarily practice in Philippines
This photo taken on Sept. 16, 2022 shows a nurse walking along a hallway before entering an intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Manila.
AFP / Kevin Tristan Espiritu

MANILA, Philippines — A senator is asking the Department of Health to consider allowing foreign doctors to practice in the Philippines even just for a limited time to foster knowledge-exchange opportunities.

The suggestion, which was floated by Sen. Francis Tolentino, received support from newly-minted Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, who cited his experience when he worked in the healthcare industry in Malaysia. 

“All I had to do was to submit a copy of my Philippine license, my membership with the Philippine Medical Association, my curriculum vitae, all of which they reviewed,” Herbosa said during Tolentino’s weekly program on DZRH.

“Then I had a little interview before they gave me a temporary license in the hospital in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,” he added. 

Herbosa said he will hold talks with the Professional Regulations Commission to see if the suggestion would be possible. 

Under Philippine laws, the PRC has the power to “approve the registration of and authorize” the issuance of a certificate of registration or license to a foreign professional, provided that their license from their home country is still valid and that requirements to obtain one are “substantially the same as those required” by the Philippines. 

Tolentino noted that there are foreign doctors who have expressed interest in practicing in the Philippines but current policies prevent them. He added that there are Filipino-American healthcare workers who have also signified that they wanted to go back to the Philippines to serve the medical industry.
Groups and advocates have been warning that the country’s healthcare system may soon collapse as nurses and other medical practitioners prefer to practice their profession overseas for better pay and benefits. 

The Philippines has inked several agreements with other countries such as Germany to help provide more opportunities for Filipino healthcare workers who wish to work abroad. 

Should foreign healthcare professionals be allowed to practice in the Philippines, Tolentino cited opportunities for them to help out in case of disasters – such as when physicians from France and Spain helped out in the country via Doctors Without Borders. This opportunity, however, went limited as the doctors were only allowed to assist with first aid procedures. 

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