House bill seeks to establish Medical Reserve Corps
REINA C. TOLENTINO
The Manila Times
A BILL filed at the House of Representatives seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The measure, House Bill (HB) 2, was filed by Leyte First District Rep. Martin Romualdez, Tingog Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Rep. Jude Acidre. The bill “aims to enhance the capacity of our country to produce and call on the needed manpower and expand its human health resources in times of disasters and public health emergencies of both national and local scale through the mobilization of a medical reserve force specifically trained to supplement the existing human health resources to ease the burden in our health care system.” Under HB 2, the MRC shall be under the control and supervision of the Department of Health’s (DoH) Health Emergency Management Bureau. The bill corps shall be composed of licensed physicians, including retired ones and those no longer working in hospitals; medical students who have finished four years of medical course; medicine graduates and registered nurses who may be issued by the secretary of Health with a limited and special authorization to render medical service pursuant to the Medical Act; and licensed allied health professionals. HB 2 tasks the Health department to create guidelines for the “recruitment, selection, compensation and provision of incentives for joining and continued membership, and length of service of the MRC members.” The bill requires recruits to undergo basic training on disaster and health emergency response, the MRC’s organization and structure, “and such other areas as may be prescribed by the DoH.” Under HB 2, successful completion of the basic training is needed for admission into the corps. The bill also requires recruits to undergo continuing training. It tasks the DoH to “prescribe a continuing training program” for recruits and members “through written, practical and simulation activities on various aspects of health emergency management and response, and on the different health emergency situations and scenarios.” Section 7 of HB 2 allows the MRC to be mobilized partially or in full. The President can order, upon the DoH’s recommendation, “the nationwide mobilization of the MRC to complement the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Medical Corps in case of a declaration of a state of war, state of lawless violence or state of calamity.” Members of the MRC who render service shall receive all the pay and allowances, medical care, hospitalization, other privileges and benefits during the period of mobilization as prescribed by law or regulation. In the 18th Congress, House Bill 8999, which aimed to establish the MRC, was approved by the House on third and final reading. The 19th Congress will open session in July.