Tolentino appeals medical board exam waiver, allow grads to help fight COVID-19

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Senator Francis Tolentino (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 23) — A lawmaker has appealed to authorities to waive the last two days of this year's medical licensure exam and allow over 1,500 graduates to help in the fight against COVID-19.

In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Tolentino said, "In a national health crisis, such as a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people."

Tolentino also called for allowing the 1,524 medicine graduates taking the licensure exam to "be authorized as doctors" pending the completion of exams "upon waiver of the same by the Professional Regulation Commission, so that they can be immediately deployed to support government and local government unit (LGU) hospitals. Honorariums and allowances may be provided for by the national government or LGUs."

Tolentino said this would be similar to Italy’s move waiving the licensure exam for 10,000 medical graduates. Italy has more than 38 percent of the world’s total deaths from the deadly virus.

The senator the United Kingdom opted for this emergency move during both World Wars.

"In a national health crisis, such as a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people," said Tolentino.

Duque has yet to comment on Tolentino's appeal.

Meanwhile, Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire said there are now 396 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

There are 19 deaths and 18 recoveries.