Sen. Cayetano  files bill establishing medical reserve corps for disasters and health emergencies

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Cayetano

Senator Pia Cayetano has filed a measure seeking to establish a national reserve force of healthcare professionals that can be immediately deployed in times of disasters and public health emergencies.

The senator on Wednesday (May 13) filed Senate Bill No. 1527, or the Medical Reserve Corps Act, which shall establish a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) specifically trained to supplement the country’s human health resources in delivering urgent services to areas affected by disasters and health emergencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the country’s healthcare system, among them is the inability to cope with the surge of patients needing medical care due to lack of medically-trained personnel,” Cayetano pointed out.

“Like a highly-skilled reserve force that has been trained to assist the standing and regular military force as needed, the country can likewise benefit from a similar reserve force for our healthcare system,” she added.

The MRC will be composed of licensed healthcare service practitioners, medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health emergencies and other necessary services.

The medical reservists will be placed under the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), and will be given compulsory basic training and continuing training programs on responding to different national and local health emergency scenarios.

Under Cayetano’s proposal, the DOH may enlist the assistance of the AFP in organizing the paramilitary structure of the MRC for its efficient, effective, and swift deployment, and provide further training for medical reservists in disaster and emergency response.

The medical reservists can be mobilized to conduct contact-tracing and monitor suspected cases during disease outbreaks, help ensure quarantine measures, and provide logistics and manpower support for large-scale disaster and health emergency operations.

“The MRC may be mobilized partially or in full as may be necessary. All members when called to service shall continue to receive all pay, allowances, and other privileges and benefits from his/her regular employment during the mobilization period,” the bill read.

SBN 1527 also proposes the establishment of mobilization centers in every province, where MRC members can register for duty. The centers should be adequate enough to house the MRC members, equipment and facilities, and other supplies needed during their period of deployment./Stacy Ang

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