Lawmakers have proposed that microbiologists pass a licensure exam before being able to practice their profession.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri authored Senate Bill No. 1630, or the Philippine Microbiology Act of 2017, which would “institute a regulatory system that guarantees the delivery of technical services in a manner that ensures food safety, quality of manufactured goods and responsive health and environmental care” for microbiologists in the country.

The lawmaker said the practice of microbiology in itself already involves special skills and critical knowledge such as genetic engineering and cell and tissue culture, thus the need for regulatory body and licensure examination.

Part of the measure's explanatory note reads: “Life on Earth is preserved with the action of microorganism in the cycling of major elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur both in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem.”

Microorganisms have various uses - in bread, cheese, soy sauce, antibiotics, vaccines and hormones.  Conversely, microorganisms likewise play a role in food spoilage, food poisoning and diseases such as pneumonia, typhoid, cholera, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Under the proposed law, fields in microbiology will include bacteriology, virology, protozoology, phycology, and mycology.

Applicants will have to pass a written technical examination given by a professional board once a year. Aside from earning 24 units in Microbiology, other qualifications include Philippine citizenship, good moral character, as well as never having been convicted with moral turpitude.

The examination scope includes general microbiology, microbial physiology, microbial genetics, microbial ecology, applied microbiology, and the Philippine Microbiology Act of 2017 and Code of Ethics.

It was further proposed that certificates be renewed every three years.

Further, a Board of Microbiology, composed of a chairman and two members with at least 5-year teaching experience will comprise the members, shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines, on the recommendation of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

The Board, similarly with other professional Boards, will prepare the contents of the examination, supervise and regulate the registration, and maintain a roster of certified microbiologists.

The Board will also monitor the practice of microbiology in the country and adopt measures that will enhance the practice.

However, Doctors of Medicine, Doctors of Veterinary Medicine and Medical Technologists which include microbiology in their practice may continue to practice without taking the exam, Senator Zubiri noted.

The bill is awaiting action from the committees on civil service, science and technology and finance. MIMS