Bill revamping Philippine medical law OK’d on 2nd reading

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Bill revamping Philippine medical law OK�d on 2nd reading
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STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure that will finally amend a 65-year-old law prohibiting foreign medical students who studied in the country from practicing the profession in their home country.

House Bill 10145, or the Philippine Medical Act, was approved in plenary last month, aiming to repeal and amend Republic Act 2382, or The Medical Act of 1959, allowing for the registration of foreign medical graduates from Philippine medical schools.

The measure, whose authors include Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, who heads the House appropriations committee, also seeks to update the existing law on medical profession in order to develop and nurture competent, ethical and globally competitive physicians. 

The measure, according to Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who championed the key amendment, will eventually pave the way for these foreign medical students to be “allowed registration (here and) can go back to their country of origin to get licensed there as physicians.”

“With this enhancement, the Philippines will surely reclaim its status as a center of medical education in the Asia-Pacific region,” Rodriguez emphasized, attributing such to the “very good quality of medical education” in the Philippines. 

Before this proposed bill, RA 2382 carried the “absence of a policy framework” to register foreign medical graduates who obtained their medical degrees in Philippine medical schools, like Indians who come to Manila to study medicine. 

HB 10145 will “address the gap” in the old law wherein foreign nationals who attended local medical schools and completed a year of internship will “finally be granted registration for practice,” according to lawyers Julito Vitriolo and Ulpiano Sarmiento III.

This piece of legislation likewise mandates the Commission on Higher Education to issue the required certification or appropriate documentation to foreigners “conferred the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree” in the implementation of the medical registration process.

Vitriolo and Sarmiento pointed out that the bulk of foreign medical students that stand to benefit the most from this bill are the Indian medical students.

“This is due to the new regulations of the Indian Medical Commission requiring registration of said medical graduates overseas where the MD degree was obtained,” they said.

“The Indian foreign students chose the Philippines as a medical education destination because of the high quality of Philippine medical education, the facility of the English language as a medium of instruction, similarities in the hospital cases and disease patterns, as well as the affordable cost of living standards, among other reasons,” they added.

At the same time, they also disclosed that the influx of Indian medical students in the country was precipitated by an executive order implemented in 2000, which, in effect, liberalized the entry and stay of foreign students in the country.

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