CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera III join representatives from Cebu Normal University and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center during the launching of Central Visayas’ first state-funded medical program in Cebu. (Screen grab from VSSMC live) 

Central Visayas’s first state-funded medical school was launched Monday in Cebu City to address the shortage of doctors in the region.

The new Doctor of Medicine program is a collaboration between Cebu Normal University (CNU) and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), said VSMMC chief Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr.

Initiated in 2018, the partnership was a logical option with both institutions leading in the education and medical fields, respectively, he said.

There were 2,051 doctors in the province of Cebu in 2017. But most were practising in urban areas, leaving just 500 doctors in the rural communities, Aquino said.

“With our consortium, we hope to help brilliant but disadvantaged students desirous to become doctors to realize their dream to help the health care system in rural areas,” he said.

Aquino said classes would be held temporarily on one of the floors in the VSMMC building. Classes will later be transferred to the eight-story Cancer Center under construction. In addition, VSMMC has identified a 4,000-square-meter property where the College of Medicine building will be built.

Filomena Dayagbil, CNU officer in charge, said the program will open in August 2021 with 40 scholars. Graduates are required to render a four-year return service to the government.

CNU-VSMMC’s medical program combines the Canadian and Cuban curricula that balances clinical and community-based medical practices, she said.

Prospero De Vera III, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson, urged CNU-VSMMC to produce graduates at par with those of other state universities and colleges (SUCs).

“I expect the same performance from Cebu Normal (University). We will not allow anything less,” De Vera said. “When we start something, we have to do it in a grand manner, in a good manner, otherwise wag nating buksan.”

De Vera also announced that CHED was giving the CNU-VSMMC College of Medicine up to P30 million in grants to purchase medical equipment.

He said the first state-funded medical program in Central Visayas was made possible by the “Doktor Para sa Bayan Act,” which grants medical scholarships to students in SUCs. Ryan Sorote