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Medical mission in Leyte: heals suffering, opens hearts

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 06:6 AM
The team of doctors wrapped up the two-day medical mission in Leyte with fulfilled smiles. Over 90 local and foreign medical practitioners in various fields of medicine had gathered for the said mission, benefitting over 3, 400 patients. The activity, the volunteer doctors have agreed, was an eye-opening experience in many ways. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Last April 11 and 12, Tzu Chi Foundation gathered more than 90 local and foreign medical practitioners in various fields of medicine for a medical mission in Ormoc and Tacloban cities in Leyte. Over 3, 400 patients benefitted from the said activity.
  • Following Tzu Chi Foundation’s goal of helping the poor and educating the rich, the medical mission in Leyte had provided free medical attention to the needy and opened the hearts and minds of the volunteer doctors in the harsh reality of life. Hence, the experience had encouraged these volunteers to help in whatever way they can.

Volunteer doctors from Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, USA and the Philippines have pooled in their efforts for a two-day medical mission in Leyte. A total of 3, 417 patients were provided free medical consultation and treatment in the fields of general medicine, pedia, dental, ENT, urology acupuncture and pharmacy. The mission was conducted last April 11 and 12 at Ormoc Superdome in Ormoc City and Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) in Tacloban City, respectively.

Aside from bringing medical attention to the needy, the mission had also served as an eye-opening experience for the volunteer doctors.

The volume of patients had surprised Malaysian dentist and Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) member Dr. I. Venugopal. In an interview, he said that seeing the great crowd waiting for them in every venue had gave him “the shock of his life”.

“When I signed up for this medical mission, I thought it would be the same as what we were doing in Malaysia. But I have never seen this big number of people,” he says. “It made me sad. This just goes to show that there are so many people who cannot afford dental treatment.”

On average, people in Leyte have daily incomes of about Php280. Dental extraction usually costs Php300. Learning about this, the 62-year-old dentist was filled with compassion for the residents. “I feel that we should do more of these missions so the people at least can get some health care,” he muses.

The doctor had oversee the dental examination prior to the patients’ operation. Although he has joined the Buddhist organization in 2010, the activity in Leyte marked his first Tzu Chi medical mission. According to him, “One thing beautiful about Tzu Chi volunteers is that they work without complaining and without asking for anything in return.”

Tzu Chi volunteers have divided the manpower to make the activity a success. While some were tasked to conduct extraction, dental surgery, filling and cleaning, medical checkups, acupunctures, and the dispensing of medicines; others were busy assisting and translating for the foreign doctors.

This was noticed by another TIMA dentist, Dr. Aramia Tee. The mission in Leyte is her second time volunteering for the Buddhist organization. “Two years ago I was in Sri Lanka for a Tzu Chi medical mission,” she shares. “Tzu Chi’s missions are very organized so when I heard that there is a medical mission in the Philippines I readily joined.”

When the team arrived at the venue at 7am, the Singaporean dentist was moved upon seeing the turn up of patients. “In Singapore, dental care is very easily accessible. But here, it’s different. People don’t get to see a dentist very often. They really value us coming here to treat them. That’s why whenever I see these patients I really want to do everything for them,” she ends.

Over 90 local and foreign professional doctors have chipped in their time and expertise for the said medical mission.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2014 06:6 AM

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