Nepalese MD’s to train and render service in Bicol Medical Center

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As a result of the drop in the number of medical school graduates and the exodus of local doctors to foreign countries, the Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Naga City has resorted to bringing in 40 doctors from Nepal. From the remote country close to Mount Everest, Nepalese foreign medical graduates will be in the city to train and render service.

“The Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City is a 500-bed government tertiary hospital under the direct supervision of Department of Health Center for Health Development – Bicol, Legazpi City. It is a non-profit institution and one of the 13 medical centers under the National Government.” http://doh.gov.ph/bmc (Photo Credit: bmc)

The presence of imported healers in Naga is expected to beef up the medical personnel of the government hospital which has suffered the lack of MDs for the last 5 years. There have been fewer applicants to fill in the 28 doctor-vacancies in BMC. Therefore, the coming of the international physicians appears to be a boon to the hospital service in the city. But is it?

Without inciting any nativist sentiment against the foreign professionals, I think it is justified to ask if the Nepalese doctors’ schooling is comparable to those of the local physicians. The adherence to standard medical training (i.e. in the tradition of Western allopathic medicine) is important before they are allowed to handle patients. Their medical background must be adequate to meet the peculiar health needs of the community. To ascertain competency and avoid compromising the health of patients, they must be tested for basic communication and clinical skills.

Though the Department of Health (DOH) approves of these foreign doctors, does the government have guidelines that define the scope of medical duties and accountability? Are the professional regulations in place to protect the doctors, their patients and the hospitals where they work? Will the presence of these trainee-MDs not interfere with the training and oversight of local doctors, nurses, and other paramedical professionals? Are there enough senior MDs to supervise and teach them? Are they not in violation with the rules of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) which regulates physician licensure and practice? Has there been discussions on the effects of foreign doctors on the healthcare of the nation? Their presence may distract the government from pursuing the programs which will make local doctors stay and serve the community instead of going abroad.

In a blog I posted on August 27, 2008, I wrote:

According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Reynaldo Santos, M.D. the arrival of these foreign medical trainees attests to the high quality of education in the country. But this is doubted in the wake of a sharp decline of the number of hospitals, a marked rise in patient load for doctors and nurses, a low passing rate of Filipinos in the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE,) an over-crowding of patients and trainees, lack of budget, equipment upgrade, and medical facilities in many hospitals.

I hope Bicol Medical Center has ironed out the important issues cited above. Otherwise, sending in the Nepalese doctors will solve some of the current healthcare problems of Naga City, but it can also spawn fresh and bigger challenges that haven’t been given enough attention and consideration.=0=

RELATED BLOG: “RP’s 40% drop in med school enrollment & the foreign doctors” Posted by mesiamd at 8/27/2008

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