Gutoc appeals for more incentives, safety insurance for barrio doctors
MANILA, Philippines — Otso Diretso opposition senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc has rallied behind the country’s barrio doctors, saying that incentives and protection for them should be strengthened and institutionalized through a law.
During the first round of ABS-CBN’s “Harapan 2019” senatorial debates on Sunday, Dr. Erica Davillo, a doctor who volunteered to serve in far-flung areas in the country, asked what the senatorial aspirants could do to ensure that there are enough doctors in all areas of the Philippines and that their safety is secured.
Gutoc, a Marawi civic leader and peacebuilder answered by asking a question why our doctors leave the country to work abroad. “Why do they leave? May incentives ba for our doctors (Do we have incentives for our doctors)? Are they provided for? Are they given enough incentives to stay in the provinces?” she asked.
“Ang daming magagaling na mga Pilipinong doktor, hindi po nagseserbisyo sa mga probinsya. Alam ko ‘yun, where infant mortality is highest (Many Filipino doctors would not serve in the provinces where infant mortality is highest),” the long-time community mover in Mindanao added.
The Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program is a program under the Department of Health (DOH). In previous congressional budget hearings, the DOH said they were having a hard time filling DTTB slots due to the “unattractive pay” and “the desire to undergo further training.”
According to the DOH website, DTTB volunteers currently receive a salary equivalent of salary grade 24 which is P24,000, and a representation allowance. The agency also said volunteers could avail of continuing medical education, and postgraduate studies.
The DOH requires DTTB volunteers to be Filipino citizens, licensed Doctor of Medicine, physically and mentally fit, not more than 50 years old, and willing to work in depressed and hard to reach areas for two years.
As a former ARMM assemblywoman, Gutoc said she had access to facts and figures pointing to the sorry state of health care in the region, especially among the poorest of the poor.
If elected, she said she would push for a law that would institutionalize support mechanisms for doctors who would choose to serve in remote and conflict areas.
“Importante po (It is important that) doctors to the barrios should be institutionalized. Doctors for barrios should be given subsidy,” the former journalist said, adding that barangay health workers and health programs led by doctors should be a priority by the LGUs, if not the national DOH.
“Kailangan po ang automatic allocation, ang health subsidy, ang health hazard insurance ng bawat doctor para hindi matakot ang doctor mag-serbisyo sa mga probinsya (The program needs automatic allocation, health subsidy. Each doctor needs health hazard insurance, so they don’t hesitate to work in the provinces),” said Gutoc, a recent UNDP N-Peace awardee. /ee
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.