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Around 1,500 med grads must be allowed to respond to COVID-19 sans licensure exam, says Tolentino

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) should allow around 1,500 medical graduates to practice the profession even without passing the licensure exam as the country faces coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senator Francis Tolentino said Monday.

In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, dated March 23, Tolentino cited Section 12 of Republic Act No. 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959 which states in the presence of pandemics or national emergencies, "medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, and registered nurses are allowed to render medical services upon authorization by the Secretary of Health without 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 added.

He said around 1,500 fresh graduates from various medical schools took the Physician Licensure Examination administered by the PRC on March 8 and 9.

The scheduled exam on March 15 and 16, however, have been postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

Tolentino said the licensure exam should be waived so that the deployment of additional medical workforce to public hospitals may be facilitated immediately. He noted that most of these exam-takers are currently in Metro Manila.

Further, he said the local government can also provide these medical graduates with honorarium or allowance.

“Sa Italy, ginawa na nila ito. Hindi na nila pinakuha ng licensure examination ang 10,000 nilang medical graduates at pinayagan na silang maging ganap na mga doktor para agad silang makatulong sa COVID-19 health crisis nila doon,” Tolentino said.

He also said that during the World War II, Philippine Military Academy cadets from Batches 1942 and 1943 were immediately commissioned as lieutenants so that they can be deployed to war.

"Nasa giyera tayo ngayon. Bakit pa natin hihintayin na lumalala pa ang mga kaso ng COVID-19 dito sa Pilipinas bago tayo kumilos at dagdagan ang ating mga health workers, na nananawagan ngayon para sa ating tulong?" he said.

At least three doctors who attended to COVID-19 patients in the Philippines were reported to have succumbed to death after being exposed to the virus themselves while more than 600 health workers are in quarantine.—AOL, GMA News