DOCTOR OF MEDICINE COURSE. Photo shows the facade of the administration building of the Cebu Normal University (CNU). The CNU-Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center is now authorized to offer the Doctor of Medicine course to deserving students under the Medical Scholarship and Return Service program of the government, starting school year 2021-2022. (Photo courtesy of CNU Confession Active FB page)

CEBU CITY – To operationalize the national effort to bolster presence of doctors in underserved areas, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) announced that it has authorized the Cebu Normal University-Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (CNU-VSMMC) to offer a Doctor of Medicine program starting this year.

Dr. Joseph Elvir Tubilan, CNU professor, posted on his social media page on Thursday the statement of CHED Chairman Dr. Prospero de Vera III, announcing that the 119-year old premier state university in Cebu, along with the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), now has a course for students who wish to take up Medicine.

In the statement, De Vera said CNU and WMSU “will assist the government in providing one doctor per barangay as a way of making primary health care accessible especially in rural or underserved area, as mandated under Section 25.3.e ad f of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act”.

CNU has partnered with the VSMMC, a Department of Health (DOH)-run regional state hospital, in offering the medical course. Established in 1902, it is recognized as a state research university and has been designated by CHED as Center of Excellence (COE) in both Nursing Education and Teacher Education.

De Vera said CNU will follow a combination of the Cuban and Canadian model medical course curriculum highlighting a balance between clinical and population/community based practice.

For the WMSU in Zamboanga City, De Vera said, it will focus on holistic and integrated learning in medicine which combines problem-based integrated system approach and research-based and values-driven education.

The UHC of the Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, the CHED chief said, quoting DOH, is a “provision to every Filipino of the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, fairly financed, and appropriately used by an informed and empowered public”.

De Vera also cited Republic Act 11509 or the Doctor Para sa Bayan Law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 23, 2020 that is mandated to establish a Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) program for deserving students in state colleges and universities or in partnership with private higher education institutions in regions where no medical course has been offered.

“In support of these landmark laws, CHED is aggressively assisting top SUCs develop Doctor of Medicine programs to address the shortage of doctors across regions of the country,” he said.

De Vera said the new Doctor of Medicine program in SUCs will expand the opportunities for poor but deserving students through scholarship support under the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act.

“The Duterte administration will produce more doctors through our top SUCs, who will go to underserved areas and local governments in need of health personnel,” he said. (PNA)