THE House of Representatives has approved a bill that will regulate medical professionals in the country. The proposed “Physicians Act”, which was principally authored and sponsored by Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan of the 4th District of Quezon, seeks to repeal the outdated Medical Act of 1959 that is no longer responsive to the scientific advancements and medical landscape of the modern times.
Tan, who is a medical professional and Chairperson of the Committee on Health, explained that the Physicians Act will cover the regulation of the medical education, which is inclusive of clinical clerkship, post-graduate medical internship, licensure and residency program.
“There are a myriad of problems besetting the medical profession revolving around medical education, licensure, practice, and specialization. This bill seeks to fill in the gaps created over time and streamline the entire medical education from pre-med, medicine proper, licensure, general practice up to specialization and, further, sub-specialization which the already “antiquated” Medical Act has not anticipated to branch out, grow and develop”, Tan said.
The bill seeks to establish the Integrated National Professional Organization of the Physicians, which will serve as the national organization to which all physicians will become a mandatory member – a model patterned after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Tan underscored that “This organization will become a partner of the government authorities in all its activities concerning physicians. A unified group of physicians will definitely elevate the standards of the medical profession, improve healthcare delivery, and enable the physicians to discharge their responsibility more effectively.”
One of the important features of the bill is the creation of the Post-Graduate Medical Education which will govern the standards, policies, certification and training of all post-graduate trainings of physicians or the medical residency, a deviation from the current practice where the Philippine Medical Association’s Specialty Societies, a private entity, has governed the training and certification of specialists and has self-regulated for over several years.
“The intention in creating this body is to streamline the certification of specialists in the country and to have a national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training for medical professionals. There have been several problems in residency/specialty and fellowship training such as difficulty in obtaining slots, prioritization in selection of trainees to address the need for equitable training program, overworked and underpaid residents, which may be attributed to the absence of a government regulatory agency or body that will supervise and monitor the conduct of medical residency/specialty or fellowship trainings in the country. If we want a better healthcare system especially in these trying times, we should shift our focus to the manpower that fuels it”, Tan stressed.
The bill also features regulations governing medical residency training that were set to provide humane working conditions for residents, including decent salary and other benefits, and higher standards of professional conduct.
The Physicians Act once enacted into law is hoped to address the problem of the emergence of many medical organizations in the country that is causing a lot of confusion to the Professional Regulation Commission, especially in complying with the country’s obligation towards ASEAN Integration. ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Medical Practitioners to which the Philippines is a signatory.