DAVAO CITY (STN/08 August) — Insisting on the urgency to mitigate the poor health situation in the indigenous community, the Save Talaingod Network (STN) pushed through with its major medical intervention dubbed as Save Talaingod Medical Mission this August 7-11, 2010 in four strategic communities in the affected areas of Talaingod.
In an Inquirer report dated July 30, 2010, Talaingod local government officials expressed dismay over the reported measles outbreak in the area, which they said, was a “baseless rumor”. Health officers of the municipality insisted that they visited the area on a daily basis and found no truth to the allegation.
In response to this, Ateneo psychology instructor Raffy Sanchez, spokesperson of the Save Talaingod Network, asserted that the network’s data came from the Community-Based Health Services Association (CBHA) and members of the Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, a lumad organization covering at least 60 communities in Talaingod.
“On July 23, 2010, leaders of the Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, went to Davao City to seek assistance about what they perceived as an outbreak of ‘Tipras’. From the accounts we have gathered, the possibly affected villages namely Pong-pong, Km. 39, Pangaan, Nalubas, Bagang, Laslasakan, Miboloo and Pananaan are far-flung areas which could only be reached by at least 6 hour-foot trails. This makes it highly improbable for health officers to visit the area on a daily basis,” Sanchez explained
Assisted by the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples, lumad leaders went to media outfits to make known the plight of their people. Thus, the news about a possible measles outbreak became public.
Talaingod is a 5th class municipality, which belongs to the top 20 poorest towns in the country. Its Ata-Manobo communities, especially in the remote villages, do not have access even to the most basic health services. The effects of measles or any viral diseases apparently put the Ata–Manobos in a more serious danger considering the existing problem of malnutrition and hunger.
“We are also hoping that what is causing the deaths in Talaingod is not a measles outbreak. But granting without conceding that such is the case, the existing realities in terms of health and other social services in the area still warrant a medical mission, ” Sanchez insisted.
He added: “This is not the time for lumad advocates to be divided. We do not intend to mince words with the local government unit. Rather, we urge them to join hands in uplifting the sorry plight of Talaingod. These problems necessitate a responsive government—one which is committed to support initiatives which provide health and other social services.”
The Save the Talaignod Network, composed of the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Community-Based Health Services Association, Urban Integrated Health Services Foundation (UIHSFI), Promotion of Church People’s Response, Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Assumption College of Davao- CES, and KATRIBU partylist, formed last July 23, 2010 and convened again last August 4 in preparation for the forthcoming activities.
Their donation drive activities are still on-going. Donations, especially in the form of medicines, rice, and canned goods, may be sent to the Assumption College of Davao. The network also enjoins interested individuals to be a part of the first batches of medical mission on August 7-11, 2010. (STN)
Raffy Jones Sanchez
Save Talaingod Network