PMA Legacy

by: Santiago S. Del Rosario, M.D.

Former PMA President, 1988-1989

In the Beginning…

In late Spanish era there were already health groups in Manila although limited to doctors, sanidades and nurses only. There was also the Colegio Medico –Farmaceutico de Filipinas. On September 29, 1898 a board of health was created to oversee the improvement of Health and Sanitation of Manila

When William Howard Taft was appointed civilian governor general, he assigned Major John Rich Mc Dill, M.D., Brigade surgeon of the 7th Army corps operation in Cubao, to organize a medical society in order to hasten delivery of medical assistance from the American Red Cross. Thus, on July 9, 1902 the Manila Medical Society was founded and Dr. Mc Dill became the first president.

To be affiliated with the American Medical Association, a prerequisite for recognition and eligibility for Congressional allocation of funds for health, the affiliating Association must be in the category of a national level. Dr. Mc Dill called a meeting of the MMS and members of the Colegio, who were mostly MMS members anyway and merged them into the national Philippine Islands Medical Association (PIMA) on September 15, 1903 with only MMS as its component society. Societies from Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal and the rest were eventually formed.


First Decade 1903-1913

  • Enlarged the MMS to be the Philippine Island Medical Association
  • Worked for the affiliation of PIMA with the American Medical Association and recognition with the U.S. Congress
  • Encouraged all physicians to unite with PIMA attracting them through CME.
  • Surveyed the magnitude of all Communicable Diseases and formulated strategies on how to control them.
  • Organized the First PIMA Annual Convention
  • Instigated government to form a second Medical School with a Division on Tropical Medicine, Malnutrition, Tuberculosis
  • Enlarged the Board of Health into the Bureau of Health
  • PIMA worked for the establishment of the following:
    • 1905 – St. Paul’s Hospital
    • 1906 – Mary Johnston Hospital
    • 1910 – Philippine General Hospital
  • Started education of the public on hygiene, sanitation and immunization
  • Expanded the municipal laboratory of Manila into the Bureau of Research Laboratories which produced farms and developed sera, vaccines and biological chemicals were developed


Second Decade 1913-1924

  • PIMA instigated the establishment of the Santolan Sanitarium in San Juan del Monte for Treatment of Tuberculosis
  • Initiated survey on Typhoid Fever epidemics and their successful control.
  • Initiated the prophylactic treatment of hookworm and the anti-cholera vaccinations.
  • Established the first PIMA Journal to facilitate the spread of medical communications to physicians.
  • Lobbied and succeeded in urging the establishment of Dispensary services all over the country.

Third Decade 1924-1934

  • Organized the House of Delegates where important health issues were discussed and PIMAs plan of action.
  • Created the PIMA National Council of Research. Urged legislation to control influx of foreign doctors. Created the PIMA Committee on Drugs and Patents; Created the PIMA Committee on Maternal Mortality.
  • Managed to convince Governor General Theodore Roosevelt to require Philippine government to consult PIMA on appointments to the Board of Medical Examiners.
  • Amended the American Code of Ethics in existence then and produced the PIMA Code of Ethics.
  • Initiated and was successful in promoting the setting up of cancer hospitals and facilities.
  • 1939–PIMA congressman managed to produce legislation in the creation of the Department of Health.
  • Created the Liga Anti cancerosa de Filipina to help government fight cancer.
  • Created the Women’s Auxillary to the PIMA

Fourth Decade 1934-1944

  • Most of the period was under the Japanese occupation and PIMA did not want to participate with the government however during this period the Philippine Islands Medical Association was amended to be the Philippine Medical Association.
  • PMA had legislation passed – Nationalization Law which provided that only Filipino Physicians can practice medicine in Philippines.
  • PMA discovered Beri-beri as the No. 1 killer of newborns hence doctors prevented breastfeeding on women with signs of the disease

Fifth Decade 1944-1954

  • Researched, discovered and eradicated Beri-beri which was the cause of high infant mortality. Tiki-Tiki was invented and breastfeeding was prevented on mothers with signs of Beri-beri. Research on conditions why there’s high mortality on “below 5 years old children.
  • Creation of the Board of Examiners in Medicine and Surgery .
  • PMA was admitted as a member of the World Medical Association, an honor at the time.
  • Sponsored the idea of a Confederation of Medical Association of Asia and Oceania.
  • Succeeded in making President Elpidio Quirino to Proclaim September 15 as the Medicine Day and later President Magsaysay was prevailed by PMA to make it Medicine Week September 15-21.
  • In 1953, Proclamation No. 407 was signed by President Elpidio Quirino Proclaiming Philippine Medicine Day o0n September 15.
  • In 1957, Proclamation No. 330 was signed by President Ramon Magsaysay declaring September 15-21 as Medicine Week.
  • In 1966, Proclamation No. 439 was signed by President Carlos P. Garcia declaring the 4th week of September every year as Medicine Week and authorizing the PMA to take charge of the observance thereof.

Sixth Decade 1954-1964

  • Advocated the creation of the Food & Drugs and Cosmetic Board and got it passed by Congress. This became the Food and Drugs Administration.
  • PMA interceded with the U.S. government in favor of Filipino doctors who were being sent home when they failed in the Executive Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFFMG).
  • PMA started the idea of Medical Care which became the Philippine Medical Care Commission, then became Philhealth.
  • PMA created the MARIA project which dispersed physicians to rural areas without doctors.
  • PMA got the support of the Board of Medicine in citing media for unethical and false newspaper advertising.
  • In 1978, Proclamation No. 1789 declaring September 27 of every year as Physician’s Day in honor of Filipino physicians.
  • President Marcos approved the PMA project of the Philippine Medical Care commission.

Seventh Decade 1964-1965

  • PMA created the PMA Family Planning Project for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with the support of U.S. Aid to maternal and child health.
  • PMA acquired its present real estate.
  • PMA had a Dangerous Drug Board approved and a Drug Rehabilitation Center.
  • PMA produced the Professional Fee Guidelines
  • PMA created Task Force Caduceus which was assisted by police and courts sanctions on missions made against abortionists, malpractice and quackery.

Eight Decade 1974-1984

  • Got the support of the Philippine Board of Medicine to cite Media for unethical and false newspaper advertisements.
  • Founded the Association of Pediatric Societies in Southeast Asian Region in 1977.
  • PMA issued the following Public Declarations:
    1. dangers of Tobacco and smoking
    2. The need for the military to protect doctors in areas of conflict
    3. PMA objection to the Ministry of Health policy of undue restrictions on drug importation
  • PMA issued a stand against violations of Physicians freedom to practice medicine in areas of conflict and voiced opposition to the detention and kidnapping of physicians in rebel infested communities.
  • Increased PMA participation in Government projects – DO, BFAD, PHIC, PRC, BIR
  • Instituted Closure of Abortion Clinics and Apprehension of Abortionists.

Ninth Decade 1984-1994

  • Return of internship to the Colleges
  • PMA advocated reforms in the undergraduate medical curriculum and the return of internship to the Medical
  • PMA opposed Government restriction on the right of physicians to practice in areas of conflict.
  • Succeeded in including the first normal delivery as compensable by the Medicare Commission.
  • Fought for the restoration of PMA representation in the PMCC Return of internship to the Colleges
  • Assailed the Government on the local Government Code, Revised
  • Tobacco Act of 1992. Flavier Bill on Traditional Alternative medicine
  • Warned the public on deterioration of health care with the HMO and MHO
  • The PMA created the Centennial commission that will take charge of the 100th year Anniversary celebration of the Association.
  • Established the First Joint PMA-APPA Scientific meetings.
  • PMA created the Association of former PMA Presidents
  • PMA expanded the PMA Indigency Center with funds from outside sources.
  • PMA established a dental clinic, prenatal care, and baby well clinic.
  • PMA opposed vehemently the Generic Law which abrogated the right of Physician Autonomy to prescribe the best medicine considered for one’s patient. Objected strongly to Malacanang in approving the Generic Law that unethically allowed pharmacists or drugstore clerks to make substitutions on doctor’s prescription. PMA obtained the support of MASEAN, CMAAO and the World medical Association in refuting Malacanang’s Position. PMA in desperation brought the Generic Law opposition to the Supreme Court but eventually lost the case. Therefore it is incumbent to subsequent leadership of the PMA to carry on “conscious objection until Physician autonomy of the doctors will be complied by the government. In the World Medical Association where there are more than one hundred national Medical Associations active in membership, only in the Indonesia Medical Association and the Philippine Medical Association are there generic laws violating the ethical right of physician autonomy

Tenth Decade 1994-2004

  • PMA engaged in ecology and zero waste projects of Government
  • Opposed and succeeded in preventing governments plan of compulsory community service doctors after graduation
  • Opposed BIR plan to withheld Tax from professional fees.
  • PMA participated in Party List elections.
  • Celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of PMA.

Eleventh Decade 2004-2012

  • PMA won the Most Outstanding Accredited Professional Organization Award for two consecutive years, 2008 and 2009. The award was given by the Professional Regulations Commission
  • To help victims of calamities like the Ondoy, Pepeng, and the recent habagat, the PMA conducted medical missions in the affected areas in cooperation with other organizations of Health Professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and government institutions like DSWD, PNP.
  • PMA implemented the computerization of the membership and CME data of the members.
  • The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has appointed the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) to register physicians for PhilHealth accreditation as a professional health care