Surgical, medical mission touches lives of the poor

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City of Mati, Province of Davao Oriental— In a throng of patients queuing in a pre-screening procedure for the annual Surgical Mission at the DavaoOrientalProvincialHospital, fourteen-year-old Christian Tan waits in line to take his turn.

Christian, who for many years endured his double cleft-lip condition, said he was equally excited and nervous to undergo the free operation, which he says would help to turn his life around.

The boy’s family didn’t have enough money to get him treated, so together with his father Conrado, the pair rode a military truck from their village in Governor Generoso with a group of patients bound to the capital City of Mati for the promise of free surgery.

Christian’s is only one of the many stories of hope disclosed by patients who came from across the province seeking help for their illnesses and got the promised treatment they had sought. 

Touted to be the province’s biggest Surgical Mission yet, this sixth surgical mission last January 30-February 5 was made possible through partnerships with some 69 surgeons and nurses from different medical institutions that include the North Texas Association of Philippine Physicians who are based in the USA, the Operation Share International, Singaporean doctors and medical students from Singapore National Hospital, and the Medical Mission Group of Hospital of Tagum.

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During the week-long surgical mission, some 369 indigent patients received free surgery for their different illnesses such as hydrocele, hernia, cleft lip and palate, goiter, cysts, and other special cases such as rectal fistulas, colostomy repairs, and nasal polyp removal.

“I am happy that I finally got rid of the lump on my arm,” said 34-year old Dennis C. Sabran from Cateel town after operated for cyst excision. He said he had suffered from a huge mass on his upper left arm for more than 20 years, which interfered on his job as a motorcycle driver. While devastated by a typhoon and the recent heavy flooding, he admitted that he can’t afford to have an operation in a private hospital.

Like Sabran, most of the patients who came from the impoverished sector could not pay for the expensive cost of surgical operations that ranges from thirty to seventy thousand pesos.

Service beyond borders

Touching lives and giving hope to the hapless poor sector, the surgical teams gathered by the Provincial Government have traveled all the way to Davao Oriental to perform free surgeries as well as free medical consultations.

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While patients are pouring thanks to them, the surgeons said they were the ones who are fortunate to be given the opportunity to serve.  “We really thank the governor who had gathered all the teams and supported the government public health,” said Dr. Lorna Adolfo, President of the OSI. “We hope to be back here someday to serve the people of Davao Oriental.”

“It is a fulfilling activity because we were able to serve people who cannot give back to us financially. It is rewarding because we can see the happiness in their faces as we were able to reach out them,” said Dr. Joy Sanico, Provincial Health Officer I.

Meanwhile, Governor Malanyaon thanked the good doctors who shared their services and time to help the province that is still reeling from the aftermath of typhoon Pablo in 2012 and the recent heavy flooding and landslides brought about by the Low Pressure Area.

“Our situation is unbearable, perhaps difficult to overcome but with the outpouring of support from people like you, I think we were able to regain our strength, our resiliency as well as our drive to recover to bounce back,” she told the volunteer surgeons and nurses, who she described as good Samaritans.

Health as a priority

As a genuine steward of the people, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon strongly pushed for health programs since the beginning of her stint as provincial governor in 2007, which resulted for health programs to make significant headway.

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Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon

One testament to this is the upgrade of health facilities including the state-of-the-art Davao Oriental Provincial Hospital.  “We believe that this hospital as a symbol of our priorities for health concerns,” she said.

To date, the provincial government is expanding the already upgraded hospital, building new structures that will house the semi-private and private rooms.

Aside from this, the province also initiated the Madayaw Health Care Program, a local health care program where the province pays for the insurance premium of about 36,000 families.

The Department of Health has consecutively conferred the Pag-asa Award to Davao Oriental for strengthening and sustaining the functionality of nutrition program. From 17% in 2007, the malnutrition prevalence rate plummeted down to 4%.

A collaborative effort

Meanwhile, Governor Malanyaon lauded the concerted efforts of the different stakeholders in the success of the Sixth Surgical Mission.

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Although no stranger to surgical and medical missions, the governor extended her thanks to the people behind the success of the activity.

She further thanked the police and military forces who have not only maintained the peaceful and organized conduct of the activity but as well as the preparation and for providing the manpower in transporting medical supplies and equipment.

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Aside from the transportation of patients from far-flung villages, soldiers from the 701st Brigade also donated life-saving blood that was transfused to patients who needed it during the mission. By Karen Lou Deloso/ Photos by Eden Jhan Licayan

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