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Barefoot doctors of Little Baguio


Three months after the “barefoot doctors” training in Zambales from January 23 to February 5, 2016, the new community health workers (CHWs) rendered services to their respective tribes. An ocular visit was conducted by Dr. Jason Abello in Miarayon, Talakag Bukidnon. Six CHWs resided in the remote vegetable bastion of northern Mindanao namely: Edna Sulatan (Batch 9 of year 2016), Meriam Layocan (Batch 9  of year 2016), Susan Hugna-an (Batch 7 of year 2007), Lourdes Danio (Batch 7 of year 2007), Belinda Besto (Batch 1 of year 2004) and Marissa Talo-on (Batch 1 or year 2004). Upon return to the community, they’ve actively participated as educators to voters and watchers of the poll. They were officially recognized as part of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting. Supervised by the Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Noel Y. Bava, SJ and Fr. Alvin D. Laput, SJ they facilitated peaceful meetings and coordination with different parties. They also made sure that the votes, even with the low internet signal coverage, could be transmitted effectively and promptly.

 


Reports from the different batches were gathered and interviews with the members of the tribes were conducted. The agricultural area was badly affected by drought brought about by El Nino resulting to meager sources of income and food. The water has been scarce as well, a pipe running from the mountain spring brought water to the lowland. The unclean pipes and storage have resulted to diarrhea as common cause of illness. The nearest municipal hospital is 2 hours away of which the primary means of transportation were motorcycles in unevenly paved roads and rough terrains.

 
The place is located 4,450 feet above sea level, hence it has been fondly called as “little baguio” of Mindanao. Hovering on a hill is the clinic established by the Jesuit missionaries together with Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, SPC, MD of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI). The clinic sells affordable medicines and offer primary health care services to the people. The graduates assist the missionaries in attending the health concerns. They also accompany the patients with complicated illness even until Cagayan de Oro city which is 8 – 10 hours by public transport. Truly, they have become point persons for health issues.

 

 


The ocular visit resulted to the establishment of an organization among the community health workers, “Kababaihan para sa Kalusugan” or aptly called Women for Health. Edna Sulatan, the wife of the barangay captain, was appointed president. The group decided to replicate the FOLPMI program of E-pondo or fund for emergency cases. They’ve initiated it during council meetings where they would collect 5 pesos and becomes a common fund for emergency. In addition, the group will be launching the Yellow Box project which is a box equipped with commonly used medicines and wound dressing materials. The patients will have to pay a minimal fee to replenish the medicines. Any health worker with the box will therefore set a satellite clinic or pharmacy even in the farthest part of the country.