Duque backs bid to waive med board exam so grads can serve as frontliners
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III supports the recommendation of Senator Francis Tolentino to allow medical school graduates to serve in public hospitals even without a license to augment the number of the government’s health workers at the frontlines who are fighting the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“I support the recommendation. Will have the referred law reviewed,” Duque told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
Tolentino earlier proposed that the licensure examination of over 1,500 medical school graduates be waived so they can be immediately deployed by the Department of Health (DOH) to support health workers in government hospitals.
The lawmaker made this suggestion after the DOH called for volunteer doctors and nurses as it sets up referral hospitals for individuals who have tested positive for the disease.
The Physical Licensure Examination administered by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) was scheduled for March 8, 9, 15 and 16, 2020. Medicine graduates took the exam on the first two dates but the test on the two latter dates was postponed by the PRC due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Citing the Medical Act of 1959, Tolentino said medical students who have completed the first four years of the medical course, graduates of medicine, as well as registered nurses “are allowed to render medical services upon authorization by the Secretary of Health without the need of a certificate of registration.”
“In a national health crisis, such as a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people,” he explained.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of individuals who have been infected by the disease in the country is now at 501, according to DOH. The number of recoveries is now at 19, including one additional in the count, while the death toll remained at 33.
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