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Medical and dental mission for families affected by Typhoon Yolanda and Typhoon Ruby in Polambato, Bogo City, Cebu

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The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, Inc. conducted a medical and dental mission in Barangay Polambato, Bogo City on December 14, 2014. Located in the northern part of Cebu about three hours ride from Cebu City, it was one of the barangays severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda and recently, by Typhoon Ruby on December 6, 2014. The mission was conducted in the Polambato Elementary School.

The Visays Primary Health Care Services, Inc. coordinated with the Polambato Farmers’ Association which was organized by the Central Visayas Farmers’ Development Center (FARDEC), another non-government organization, in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda as part of its relief and rehabilitation support services for families affected by the disaster. The local government unit and administration of the elementary school helped also to prepare for the mission.
Members of the mission team included the following, namely: 12 doctors, 7 nurses, seven dentists, and one psychologist. The VPHCS had nine staff members which included one doctor and three nurses. The FARDEC had two staff members. The entire medical mission team consisted of 38 people.

Services in the medical mission included the following, namely: medical consultations for illnesses for children and adults, diabetes screening for adults more than 40 years old, dental services of tooth extraction, urinalysis, and giving of reading glasses.

For many of the patients, it was the first time that they had medical care since Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in November 8, 2013. Having to work very hard to look for food after the damage to their crops, suffering from the lack of shelter after the destruction of their houses and trying to find all possible resources to feed their families, many patients had neglected their health. For many of them, going to the health center to seek medical care for their illnesses or to buy medicines for their illnesses was the least priority; the first priority was to find food.

Registered adult patients had their blood pressure taken and the children were also weighed by the nursing team. Adults 40 years old and above had their blood sugar tested for diabetes after which they joined all other adult patients in the adult consultation room. All children were ushered to the two pediatric consultation rooms.

Patients who had urinary complaints had urinalysis done.

Adults and children who had dental problems were brought to the classroom for dental services.

After their medical check-up, the patients then went to the pharmacy to get their prescribed medicines.

A total of 366 patients were given medical services, 50 of whom also had dental care, while 25 had only dental care. This brought the total number of patients to 391. A total of 147 persons were given reading glasses all of whom were also attended to by the doctors.

A total of 100 patients had their blood sugar tested for diabetes, 5 of whom had elevated blood sugar levels. They were all given hypoglycemic medications good for three months and advised to have regular blood sugar check-up and diet control.

Reading eyeglasses were provided to 147 patients. Having eyeglasses is a luxury in the rural areas in the Philippines. Even if Bogo City has optometry clinics, people could not afford their services. Those who availed of the glasses were truly happy that they could now read clearly or sew their clothes.

Hypertension was the second leading cause of illness after acute respiratory tract infections. Many of the patients said that they were not taking any anti-hypertensive medications because they did not feel any symptoms, could not afford to buy the medicines, or were not given medicines by the government health centers due to limited supply. The mission dispensed anti-hypertensive medications good for three months per patient after the doctors talked with the patients to have their blood pressure checked regularly by the barangay health workers and to take their medicines daily.

The occurrence of acute respiratory tract infections, osteoarthritis, muscle pains, and non-ulcer dyspepsia among adults is seen in the context of the situation affecting the residents who are mostly poor farmers who have to work all day long in the fields, causing stress to them and tendency to take irregular meals, or decreasing their bodies’ immune response.

Nine patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis were referred to the city government’s health center in order to have sputum examination so that the patients can avail of free medicines if the examination is positive for the tuberculosis bacteria. There were also six cases each of pneumonia and anemia and five cases each of diabetes mellitus and bronchial asthma.

There were 182 children less than 13 years old and 14 of them had normal findings. Majority (124 or 68%) had acute respiratory tract infection which is mostly viral in etiology. In the week prior to the mission, the weather was not good due to Typhoon Ruby resulting to lowered immune response of the children, making them susceptible to catch cough and colds. Ten of them came down with pneumonia and five had chronic bronchitis which are both lower respiratory tract infections. Five were anemic and three had skin infections while two had bronchial asthma and otitis media. One child had a lacerated wound on his foot after stepping on broken glass. A doctor in the mission sutured the wound so that the patient was not anymore referred to the city’s government hospital which would have cost money to his family.

All patients were properly given medicines bought from the funds from Lands Aid. They included essential medicines such as antibiotics, analgesics, anti-pyretics, anti- hypertensives, antacids, ferrous sulfate, anti-diabetic, mucolytic, deworming agents, bronchodilator, multivitamins, skin antibiotics, and many others.

In general, the mission was indeed successful and the patients expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the team. The team members were also very happy that they were able to serve the farmers and residents of the community who are continuing to strive hard to regain their normal lives after Typhoon Yolanda one year ago.

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