Volunteer docs provide health care for Siargao Island communities

SANTA MONICA, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 22 Feb) – A screaming 12-year-old boy, his legs flailing, is held prone on the chair set up at the Santa Monica Health Center as a dentist extracts a tooth that has decayed beyond the gum line.

Ophthalmologist Katrina Palafox-Tablizo checks one of the few dozens of eye patients at Sta. Monica, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte on Saturday (17 February 2018). Island Doctor Philippines held a two-day medical and dental mission at Sta. Monica benefiting at least 500 people. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

The boy will have two teeth pulled in all, a victim of the common case of tooth decay among young people in the island.

Finally, after an excruciating few minutes John steps away from the room inside the clinic. “It’s all done,” he says, breathing deeply and shaking the tension from his arms.

A few minutes later, the doctor high-fives John before heading back home.

At the municipal gymnasium, it’s all packed with people from different communities mostly from this town.

Few dozens were in the line seeking dental help for the two-day medical mission brought by Island Doctors, a group of doctors from Manila whose thrust is to carry out medical and dental assistance to island communities.

“We are thankful to the Island Doctors for their good deeds in the town,” said Dr. Arlene C. Sebastian, the municipal health officer of the local government unit of Santa Monica.

People who had come to the municipal gymnasium to receive dental treatment and medical care watched as cars with doctors, volunteers, and medicines arrived.

For two days, from Feb. 17-18, some tourists-turned-volunteers from Manila and Canada came to the town to help facilitate the health services.

Island Doctors Philippines team that held a two-day medical and dental mission at Sta. Monica in Siargao Island benefiting at least 500 people. Contributed photo

“We came to know that there’s a medical and dental mission in the town so we dropped by and offered our free time for the success of this good health mission,” said Canadian Manon Lucie.

Santa Monica resident Victoria M. Platil, who sought medical attention on her ailing eyesight, said they rarely see an activity like this in the town.

At least 433 people, mostly children and old people, were given free consultations and medicines and another 88 people were given dental care, according to Dr. Sebastian.

“After a two-day medical and dental mission, we have noticed that there were a lot of ailing people in Siargao who haven’t gone yet to the doctor. They would suffer unattended,” said Dr. Katrina Palafox-Tablizo, founder of Island Doctors Philippines.

Specialists who have made humanitarian work a cornerstone of their personal and professional lives include orthopedic surgeons Dr. Pebbles Ganal Antonio and Dr. Pinggoy Antonio, pediatricians Dr. Majelle Gagtan and Dr. Geli Espiritu, ophthalmologist Dr. Katrina Palafox Tablizo, radio oncologist Dr. Michael Malabanan and dentist Dr. Ramonito Teves.

A health forum was also conducted at Convergence in General Luna, Siargao Island with lectures that tackled prevalent diseases.

The activity is supported by CMed, Dedon Island, Denaville, The Generics Pharmacy, Happy Skin, Harana Resort, Isla Marajaw, Jollibee, JW Fox, Palafox Associates, Safeguard, Shield Bath Soap, Skyjet, Unique Toothpaste, Mr. Eric Uy, Z Hostel, and the local government units of Santa Monica and General Luna. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)