By SENATOR FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
As we continue to wage war with COVID-19 even amidst the rising number of casualties, and even when positive cases escalate at alarming rates, we rely heavily on the dedication of frontline health workers who risk personal lives and safety for public health and the greater good.We are saddened by the loss of precious lives due to COVID-19, but we lament more so the death of medical professionals who steadfastly fought and stood ground until their last lucid moments, for the millions of Filipinos who are now at the mercy of this lethal virus.
The rapid increase in the turn-out of positive COVID-19 cases inevitably heightens the demand for medical practitioners to manage the multiplying number of patients. Sadly, however, our supply of medical professionals in the Philippines, even before this dreaded outbreak destabilized the whole world, has consistently taken a downward curve in the past years.This war against COVID-19 that we so desperately try to fight will end the moment we run out of health managers at the frontline.
The need to augment our medical force during these challenged times has never been more urgent. In this hour of great need, and faced with a decreasing supply of medical doctors, our only hope for augmentation will come from soon-to-be doctors hoping to acquire the necessary license to practice the profession. These medical school graduates have gathered enough knowledge and skills to assist doctors in the management of patients, and have been fully immersed in hospital settings, attending to various types of medical situations.
The proposition I have put forward is in fact guaranteed in Section 12 of Republic Act No. 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959, as amended, which provides that during epidemics or national emergencies, medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, and registered nurses are allowed to render medical services upon authorization by the Secretary of Health, without the need for certification of registration.
Extraordinary emergencies require extraordinary responses. While the option we have put on the table might not have been tried before in the Philippines, the law will not have such provisions if statesmen and legislators then did not believe such option will advance the welfare of the people. The whole nation is caught in a web of fear, disarray, and confusion, and actions will have to be swiftly yet prudently taken in order to eliminate the virus and restore not only the people’s health, but more importantly, their normal lives.
Tags: Francis N. Tolentino