Since the Philippines was integrated into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015, there have been significant improvements to its healthcare system. This is largely due to an important document entitled the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Medical Practitioners.
The concord serves as a binding treaty among the members of the ASEAN. Ratified on the 6th of February in 2009 at Cha-am, Thailand, the ten member-states of the ASEAN put in writing a commitment to improve healthcare in the region. How has this impacted its members?
Primarily, this agreement allows for duly-certified medical practitioners in one member-state to freely practice in other member-states without need of special foreign permits. This provision is similar to how specialized manpower is being utilized in the European Union.
A regulatory board entitled the Professional Medical Regulatory Board (PMRA) will oversee the practice and will be composed of the member-states. Provided that healthcare professionals comply with the bar set by the PMRA, they will be allowed to practice anywhere in the region.
This opens up employment opportunities for said professionals while improving healthcare in less fortunate countries. The treaty focuses on technology and information sharing as well. There is an emphasis on healthcare research and manpower training that prioritizes areas with higher vulnerabilities. Institutions are recommended to accept more foreign practitioners to diversify and specialize the practice.
It is worth noting that these liberties do not come at the cost of each nation’s independence. Member-states are individually free to set their own degrees for healthcare practice and establish their own authorities to regulate and control healthcare in their country. Local practitioners must still undergo the hurdles of certification that are disconnected with the standards set by the PMRA. The only difference being a focus on collaboration among states to achieve a higher quality of healthcare.
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