First public medical school opens in Western Mindanao


ZAMBOANGA CITY— For the first time in the history of the country, only this time a public medical school named Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) will formally open for the school year 2021-2022.

The medical school is offering a Doctor of Medicine program as earlier approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Prospero de Vera III along with Cebu Normal University-Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (CNU-SMMC), said WMSU president Ma. Carla Ochotorena.

In a statement, De Vera said the approval of the medical course is part of the overall national efforts to increase the number of doctors in underserved areas.

“These state universities will assist the government in providing one doctor per barangay as a way of making primary health care accessible especially in rural or underserved areas,” said De Vera in approving the offerings as mandated under Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

De Vera said the Doktor Para sa Bayan Law or RA 11509 that was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte will establish a Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) program for deserving students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and was instrumental in CHED’s approval of the proposed programs.

“In support of these landmark laws, CHED is aggressively assisting top SUCs develop doctors of medicine programs to address the shortage of doctors across regions of the country,” De Vera said.

Ochotorena said WMSU had worked hard over the last four years to establish the medical course while acknowledging key officials, including former first district congressman Celso Lobregat in facilitating its endeavors.

“This is the first public medical school in Western Mindanao and the tuition is free especially for deserving students,” Ochotorena said. “The medical course offering of WMSU will be in the concept of Doctor of the Barrio through the scholarship support under the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act.”

The WMSU president said the university will initially cater to 50 aspiring physicians come the school opening in August this year inside the university main campus along Normal Road, Barangay Baliwasan.
According to Ochotorena, they have tapped Dr. Ma. Cecilia Cuaresma-Cruz, chief of clinics of the Ospital ng Maynila, as the dean of the new medical school here.

“We thank Manila Mayor Isko Moreno for allowing Dr. Cuaresma-Cruz, one of his best doctors to help us and be our dean in the medical school,” Ochotorena said.

She said Dr. Cruz immediately worked overtime in overhauling the curriculum which also helped in the speedy approval of the university’s application. WMSU has already hired at least 10 physicians with different specializations to be part of the medicine faculty.

Photo: WMSU

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