Taosug doc is one of three "Diamonds In The Rough" awardees

The award is given by the Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity of the University of the Philippines-College of Medicine and the Rotary Club of Paco, Manila to doctors who opted to stay and serve depressed, neglected and needy communities in the country.

The awarding was held at the Century Park Sheraton in Manila on March 3.

The two other awardees are doctor-nurse-midwife Mennie Cabacang, 38 of Maslog, Eastern Samar in the Visayas and  Dr. Vietrez Panganiban David-Abella, 48 of Virac, Catanduanes in Luzon.

Kunting, a topnotcher in the nursing licensure exam, pursued medicine and graduated in 1999 from the Zamboanga Medical School Foundation – Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine (ADZU-SOM).

Kunting served as faculty member of the ADZU-SOM in 2000 and has since helped the community medicine modules of the curriculum. 

According to the program write-up, Kunting, as part of the Ateneo Medical Assistance for Doctorless Areas (AMADA) initiative, was instrumental in creating the Family Health Guardian program, where specific family members are trained on basic sanitation and hygiene, and made aware of other health issues including family planning specifically designed for the Muslim members of the community. 

Kunting also participated in The Rural Critical Course, a training program initiated by the ADZU-SOM in partnership with the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, to improve the capabilities of physicians in critical care in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. 

He is also a member of the proposal review team of THEnet (Training for Health Equity Network), which aims to recruit students from u
nderserved and indigenous areas to produce doctors who will return to serve these communities. 

From May to June 2003 and November to December 2006, Kunting participated in the conceptualization of the National University of Laos’ Family Medicine Specialist Program. He was also chosen to coordinate the collaboration between ADZU-SOM and the Patan Academy of Health Sciences of Kathmandu, Nepal. 

He facilitated the establishment of a Community Health Information Tracking Systems (CHITS) pilot area in Labuan Health District, Zamboanga City, in coordination with the UP Manila Health Informatics Department.

Kunting manned the emergency room of the Zamboanga AE College Community Medical Center from 2000 to 2001 and from 2001 to 2008, served as Municipal Health Officer in Sergio Osmena Sr., Zamboanga del Norte.

He collaborated with the Marie Stopes Clinic, a local NGO, for free tubal ligation for interested multiparous women. He also successfully lobbied for the technology transfer of the Biosand filter; a water purification system that was crucial for the community, then burdened with a high incidence of water-borne diseases. 

In the Sangali district where he is now based, Kunting introduced Solar Disinfection (SODIS) of water with the help of the Ayudahan Foundation, a World Vision Project. 

Kunting has written a story entitled “A Pinch of Laughter” about his relationship with an elderly dying patient. It is among the inspirational pieces in “Stories That Heal,” a book published by the Biomedis Group of United Laboratories.

“It takes truly passionate individuals to choose a life of service over that of convenience. Dr. Kunting could have easily gone with many of his contemporaries abroad; it is fortunate (for his community especially) that he decided to stay. Relentless and untiring, he has in a very real sense made a difference in the lives of many,” the Fraternity program noted.

The winners, who received P100,000, a plaque of recognition and a medallion each, were selected by a board of judges headed by former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan. The doctors’ communities also received P100,000 each.

Davao City’s Dr. Jose M. Tiongco, UP Medicine Class of 1971. a Phi Kappa Mu alumnus, gave the opening address at the awards night.

 “These are three young people in Mindanao, Visayas and southern Luzon who went against the almost irresistible stream of cultural adulteration and pollution in the Philippines, the constant presence and abetment by media of unmitigated greed and materialism in our cities, the hostile and unbearable milieu in the provinces; and when the heavens were falling to pieces around our people, bravely stood up, tall, to shoulder the sky for them,” Tiongco said.

“Then it is only right that we should honor these young doctors, chosen from the few, the rare, distilled from the defeat and desperation of the poor people they serve, bathed in the sweat and blood of their own sacrifice and self denial, yet showing the brilliance of their dedication to the medical profession they claim as their birthright, for they are the precious gems that they really are -Ladies and Gentlemen, the Philippines, our Motherland's Jewels,” he said. (MindaNews)