Pia Cayetano wants gov't medical scholarships to prioritize those who will stay in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — Government scholarships in medical and allied programs should prioritize those who plan to stay and serve in the country, Senator Pia Cayetano said on Monday.

“The country has an obligation to educate its people but to educate them to the point na magiging doktor ka and then sa ibang bansa ka pala magpa-practice [you’d become a doctor but practice in other countries], I genuinely feel that that is not fair to the Filipino taxpayers,” Cayetano said during a Senate inquiry on the status of human resources for health.

“Bakit ka gagastusan kung hindi ka naman dito magtatrabaho, ‘di ba [Why spend for your education if you will not be working here, right]? But like I said, we will assist,” Cayetano added.

Official data showed an estimated cost of ₱2.17 trillion for the training and reintegration of government physicians, nurses, midwives, medical technologists, barangay health workers, and barangay nutrition scholars from 2020 to 2040.

Cayetano, who led the hearing as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking, said one way forward is to determine a potential scholar’s plans during the application process.

“We need to really find out and really have interviews with these students na ikaw ba ay magtatrabaho sa bansa kasi binabayaran ka ng bansa para maging doctor, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist. Kasi otherwise, pinag-aral mo para magtrabaho sa ibang bansa,” Cayetano said.

[Translation: “We need to really find out and really have interviews with these students and ask if they will work in the Philippines, because the government will spend for your education as doctor, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist. Otherwise, the government spent money for health workers to work in other countries,” Cayetano said.

“The scholarship should be prioritized for those who will serve, who will stay in the country,” she added.

Cayetano said while the government should respect a person’s right to explore greener pastures, it should also find ways to make the country “a pasture that they are also content and happy with.”

She asked relevant government agencies, such as the Health Department and Commission on Higher Education to present solutions in the next hearing.