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.
Dr. Avelyn Jahns, together with another dentist from Sweden, prepares the tooth brushes to be distributed among the patients after the dental education. The dental education is the major thrust of the two-day medical mission in Leyte last April 11 and 12. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Patients seeking for free medical attention are initially screened. Aside from their height and weight, the patients’ blood pressure, and glucose level were also checked. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteers showed teamwork during the medical mission. Photo shows a Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) resident dentist shows a Singaporean volunteer how the mobile dental equipments work. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Unity is shown by Tzu Chi volunteers as they help each other in whatever way they can to bring quality service to the patients. In this photo, a local volunteer translates for a Singaporean doctor and a patient. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctor checks on the ear of a patient. At the medical mission in Tacloban City last April 12, a total of 48 patients were given free medical consultation and treatment in the ENT department. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Over 90 local and foreign medical practitioners have contributed their time and skills for the medical mission in Tacloban City. In this photo, a TIMA doctor checks on a patient’s condition. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
More than 1, 600 underprivileged patients were given quality health care during Tzu Chi Foundation’s medical mission in Tacloban City last April 12. The mission had opened departments on dental, ENT, pedia, urology, general medicine, acupuncture and pharmacy. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
To serve as many patients as possible, every volunteer’s hands are full with their respective tasks. In this photo, Tzu Chi volunteers sterilize the equipments for the dental procedures. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A TIMA volunteer works hard to ensure that they are giving the right dosage of medicines to the patients. Tzu Chi’s medical mission had not only provided free medical consultation, it had also dispensed free medicines to the patients. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】