Noong Lunes, July 21, 2008, ay ininagurahan ang UP Manila School of Health Sciences – Baler, Aurora Extension Campus. Ang paaralang ito ay mag-o-offer ng ladderized courses sa midwifery, nursing at medicine. Pansamantala itong mamamahay sa ASCOT Zabali Campus habang hindi pa naitatayo ang permanenteng gusali sa Brgy. Reserva. Dumalo sa inagurasyon si Sen. Edgardo J. Angara at si UP President Emerlinda Roman.
Ang programang ito ay sagot ng UP sa problemang “brain drain” o “brain hemorrhage” na kasalukuyang nangyayari sa industriya ng kalusugan sa Pilipinas. Ang modelo ng programang ito ay ang matagal nang ginagawa sa UP School of Health Sciences sa Palo Leyte. Ang mga mag-aaral dito ay walang UPCAT, pinipili at ini-sponsor ng mg lokal na pamahalaan at may kasunduang maglilingkod sa nasabing bayan pagkatapos mag-aral. Ang bawat school year ay nahahati sa apat na quarter at walang grade ang mga mag-aaral maliban sa “Passed” o “Needs Tutorial” para maiwasan ang kumpetisyon. Ladderized o baha-bahagdan ang kurso dito na magsisimula sa midwifery, pagkatapos ay nursing at hanggang medicine.
Narito ang balita mula sa Manila Bulletin na sinulat ni Ariel AvendaÃ±o:
A satellite campus of the University of the Philippinesâ€™ School of Health Sciences (UPSHS) was inaugurated here the other day.
UPSHS, which would serve four adjoining provinces, is intended to convert Aurora â€“ located some 230 kilometers north of Manila â€“ into the health hub of northeastern Luzon.
The extension campus is also intended to produce graduates of medicine-related courses who would fill the void caused by the lack of health professionals in the countryside.
The exodus of doctors, nurses and midwives to greener pastures abroad is behind the lack of health professionals in the country, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara said.
Angara, who initiated the establishment of the UPSHS branch here together with UP President Emerlinda Roman, said the UPSHS-Baler campus will be the first UP specialized school on health in Luzon which will serve the health needs of people not only in the host province but also in the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Nueva Ecija.
Citing the ill effects of lack of health care in the countryside, Angara related a story about twin siblings of his Bugkalot caretaker whom he was about to adopt. He said the siblings died, and cause of death was diarrhea.
“Noong una kong makita yong kambal sabi ko, aampunin ko na lang at pag-aaralin, subalit nang balikan ko after two months namantay na pala dahil lang sa sakit na diarrhea.
“Thatâ€™s why I initiated moves to strengthen the delivery of health services to the far-flung communities,” Angara said, adding that the country was ranked 53rd among 55 countries with the highest rates of infant and mother mortality.
Angara, former UP president, said the newly opened school will temporarily operate in the Zabali campus of the Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT), while the UPSHS building is under construction. A memorandum of agreement was signed between the UP administration and ASCOT represented by its president, Dr. Eusebio Angara.
The senator said that the R150-million UPSHS-Baler campus will rise in a five-hectare lot in Barangay Reserva. The project will be jointly undertaken by the Department of Health (DoH) and the provincial government.
For a start, 59 students had been enrolled in the ladderized education curriculum, including 35 from Aurora, Isabela, eight; Nueva Vizcaya, five; Quirino, 10; Nueva Ecija, one.
Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, who is also a UP graduate, said the student scholars are bound by a social contract to go back to their community and render health service. They would apply the expertise they gained from the program to serve their villages.
Castillo, younger sister of Angara, said that the establishment of the UP campus in the heart of Aurora signals a new dawn for the people of the province. She said it had been her dream to establish in Aurora a branch of the best university in the country, and this is finally realized with the help of Senator Angara and UP.
UP president Roman said the UPSHS in Baler is a centennial project, referring to the centennial celebration of the university. She said she is looking forward to an academic partnership with ASCOT through faculty exchange and enrolment.
She added that UP will also open its extension programs in South Cotabato to service North and South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and Shariff Kabunsuan.
The inauguration was also graced by by Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Ma. Luisa Cuaresma, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla, Nueva Ecija provincial consultant Ferdinand Abesamis who represented Gov. Aurelio Umali, municipal mayors and UP officials, UP Manila Chancellor Ramon Arcadio; vice chancellor for planning and development Dr. Zorayda Leopando; and Dean Jusie Lydia Siega-Sur of the UPSHS in Palo, Leyte.