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Medical board exam waiver pushed so 1,500 grads can join frontline in fighting Covid-19

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Senator Francis Tolentino on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to authorize more than 1,500 medical school graduates to render medical services without having them finish their licensure examinations so that they can be immediately deployed as the country strengthens its fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“During epidemics and national emergencies, the secretary of the DOH can authorize graduates of medical schools to render medical services without a certificate of registration as provided for in Sec. 12 of Republic Act 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959,” Tolentino said in a letter addressed to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

He noted that around 1,524 new medicine graduates have already taken the first two parts of the Physician Licensure Examination (PLE) scheduled on March 8, 9, 15 and 16, 2020.

The two latter dates have been postponed by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on March 11 due to the pandemic.

“It is urged that these graduates from all the medical schools in the Philippines be authorized to practice medicine and to be registered as doctors, without having to take the PLE, upon waiver of the same by the PRC, so that they can be immediately deployed to support the government and local government units,” Tolentino said.

He said the practice would be similar to what has been done in Italy, where they waived the mandatory licensure exam of around 10,000 oftheir medical graduates so that they can immediately help combat theCovid-19 health crisis gripping the European country.

Tolentino likewise noted that it has also been done before in the United Kingdom wherein senior medical students of Edinburgh University were tapped to serve in the British army as temporary surgeons on probation during World War I in 1914 before they graduated.

In the Philippines, the closest example was when during the World War II, the cadets from batch 1942 and 1943 of the Philippine Military Academy were commissioned as lieutenants and called to war even before they graduated from the academy, he said.

“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,” Tolentino said. (PNA)

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