By: Mielmia Marie T. Baquiran & Angelyn S. Lacambra
Chamly B. Cristobal, 22 years old and a mother of three children, left her home in barangay Fugu, Ballesteros as early as 6:00 in the morning on January 23, 2013 to rush to the Ballesteros Municipal Gymnasium. She cuddled her six-month old baby Dexter, who was having fever for two days already. Chamly wrapped baby Dexter in warm clothes and together with and her cousin, they took a tricycle ride to the gym. She was hoping that today, she will be among the first to make it among the throngs of people who will line up for the medical mission of the Provincial Government of Cagayan and Agbiag Partylist that was scheduled in town.
Chamly B. Cristobal is only among the thousands of Cagayanos who availed of the services of the medical mission sponsored by PGOC, Agbiag Partylist, the University of Santo Tomas Medical Alumni Association of America or USTMAAA (specifically the Terra Haute Indiana Kami or THINK group), and the City Government of Tuguegarao on January 22-24, 2013 in Tuguegarao City, Ballesteros and Camalaniugan, Cagayan.
Doctors from Indiana, USA composed of experts in general medicine, cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, surgery, and dentistry came to the province to render free services to Cagayanos. They were tapped by the Agbiag Partylist, through the initiative of Congressman Patrick T. Antonio.
Dr. Visitacion “Ching” T. Antonio, the overall coordinator of the mission said that the main objective of the endeavor is to extend medical attention to the poor and underserved Cagayanos.
“The medical mission brings in the expertise of some 25 doctors of the USTMAAA. They want to serve and help their fellow “kababayans” back home through free medical consultation and service.”
Dr. Antonio also emphasized that the medicines brought in for the medical mission were provided by PGC and Agbiag Partylist. “These medicines will be dispensed to the patients for free,” Dr. Antonio added.
Medical, dental and surgical attention for Cagayanos
The medical mission in the three different areas served a total of 2,435 patients with medical, dental and surgical needs.
A total of 1,981 patients were served with medical attention; while 261 were given dental consultation and care.
The Provincial Health Office nurses, dentists and doctors assisted in the medical mission. They facilitated the initial screening of patients, in surgical procedures and in dispensing medicines. The Municipal Health Office medical practitioners also assisted during the mission.
The major surgery of patients was done in People’s General Hospital in Tuguegarao City. A total of 58 patients were operated in the said hospital. These patients were initially screened and given a cardio-pulmonary clearance in the same hospital on January 8-18, 2013.
Operations were performed on patients with cleft lip repair, cleft palate cheiloplasty, goiter, neck mass, hemorrhoids, ovarian cyst, thyroid cyst, hernia, and myoma.
Meanwhile, minor surgeries were done in the respective municipalities. These were walk-in patients with small cysts and masses only. A total of 135 patients were served during the minor operations in the said towns.
Patients who came in the medical mission complained of cough and colds, flu, headaches, backaches, stomach problems, arthritis, anorexia, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory complaints, cardio-vascular diseases and others. Some paediatric cases such as rashes, cradle’s cap, fever, cough and colds, and malnutrition were also brought to the doctors’ attention.
“Sincerity of the heart is what matters in public service”
Governor Alvaro T. Antonio, who is an advocate of health and who believes that a healthy citizenry is crucial in driving progress and development in the province, said that the medical mission is part of his agenda on “Health.”
In a message during the “Governor’s Night” held at Hotel Roma on January 22, 2013, Governor Antonio underscored his goal to achieve a healthy and progressive Cagayan, with healthy Cagayanos leading the government and ushering development in the countryside.
“We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to USTMAAA and Agbiag Partylist for coming to Cagayan and helping us attain our commitment to deliver the best health services to the Cagayanos,” Governor Antonio added.
Meanwhile, Congressman Patrick T. Antonio arrived on January 23, 2013 to grace the “Appreciation Night” that the Agbiag Partylist offered to PGC and USTMAAA and the other agencies and organizations behind the mission. His team, led by his Chief of Staff, Atty. Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco, distributed certificates to the people who helped in the three-day medical activity.
Cong. Antonio also gave his words of gratitude to PGC and the USTMAAA. He saluted the “sincerity of the hearts” of the doctors who came all the way from US and the public servants of the province who continue to offer the best services to the Cagayanos. “We know fully well that we are leaders who have reached the pinnacle of success in life. This is the opportune time to share our blessings to our less fortunate “kababayans.” It is time to give back to people who deserve our care,” Cong. Patrick said.
Dr. Primo Andres, the Executive Director of USTMAAA acknowledged the warm appreciation of PGC and Agbiag. He said that this will not be the last medical mission of USTMAAA in the province. “This is just the beginning of a fruitful partnership with PGC and Agbiag. We hope to come back again to Cagayan and continue our shared goals of helping our people,” Dr. Andres said.
The night activities were also graced by various dignitaries in the province including members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Mayors, department heads of the PGC, teachers and students from the academe who entertained the guests for two nights and other guests.
The medical mission was capped with a leisure tour in Piat and Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort or Sun City in Sta. Ana on January 25, 2013.
Meanwhile, Chamtyl Cristobal of Ballesteros, came home last January 23, 2013 with free medicines on hand for her feverish son, a smile on her face and some peace of mind.