contributed to The Pamalakaya Times
Manila, Philippines-The medical integration bill being fast-tracked by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) in Congress violates the fundamental rights of both doctors and patients.
Two days after the nation commemorated Human Rights Day, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) criticized the bills pending in the Senate as inimical to the interest and rights of medical practitioners, and detrimental to the overall healthcare system.
“Are doctors who are non-members of PMA aware that there is a pending bill that will force them to become PMA members if they want to practice medicine in this country?” decried Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary-general of HEAD.
Under the proposed measure of medical integration, membership with the PMA will be a mandatory requisite to the practice of medicine.
Moreover, only the PMA and its eight affiliated specialty associations will determine who can perform specialty procedures. Doctors who are not sanctioned but who will perform these procedures face severe penalties, including life imprisonment!
“Medical integration is an insult to the sacrifice of many government doctors and physicians in far-flung communities who have taken it upon themselves to provide the needed services to the people. Under the proposed measure, they will now have to fulfill the requirements set by the PMA in order to do the things they are already doing.”
Such proposed medical integration will eventually discourage doctors from going to either government service or rural practice. New doctors who wish to fulfill the specialty requirements of the PMA will wind up in hospitals in urban centers. Poor patients in the countryside will have less and less medical care.
HEAD also criticized the Arroyo government, particularly health agencies like the Department of Health and the Professional Regulations Commission, for reneging on its responsibilities.
“Why is government giving such authority to a private organization? Why are the DOH and the PRC allowing the PMA to establish a virtual monopoly over medical practice?” asked Dr. Rivera.
“The Arroyo government and the PMA should address the current needs Filipino doctors, especially those working under extremely difficult conditions, instead of removing their basic rights and freedoms through an act done in haste and secrecy. The clandestine nature of this bill only raises suspicion as to its real motive.”
“In the end, the greater imperative is how to enable the remaining doctors here and the entire medical community to work together to improve the health situation of the Filipino people.”####