Wednesday, October 7, 2009

July 26-31: Rosa Mystica Health Mission 2009 in Tanay, Rizal

Swine flu control measures, kidnapping of Italian Red Cross volunteer Eugenio Vagni, and the bombings in Southern Philippines filled the preparations for the 2009 Rosa Mystica Health Mission with suspense, with foreign volunteers kept guessing where they would be landing to do the mission.

Alternative venues were considered including Butuan, Leyte, Bohol, and Benguet, until finally the decision was made to conduct the mission in Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal.

It was a fortunate choice. As the mission progressed the difficulties of availing medical services in the locality were felt by the volunteers who were faced with the reality that in Barangay Sampaloc, one had to drive one hour to buy ventolin anti-asthma spray or to have one's x-ray or ultrasound taken, and had to wait for 2-3 days to get the result! A boy who had a bad fall from a tree who was rushed to the mission had to be driven some 4 hours to the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital in order to be properly assessed and treated. The inaccessibility of basic health services was keenly felt. Emergency purchases of medicines took between 5 to 24 hours to be delivered.

Rain was continually pouring heavily over the mission area, but the line of patients asking to be served never let up, even to the last day of the mission. The mission had to be extended another day, though a number of volunteers had already gone home. It was sad to leave still many sick poor who were not served, but we had to go because our resources (time, medicines, food, energy) were not infinite.

During the 6 days, the patients served at the different departments of the mission totaled 3,130. A week after the mission some 30 more patients were served at the mission headquarters, and another 60 served by a partner doctor in the locality. Follow up care was done, sutures removed, referrals facilitated. At the moment there are still patients on medication for asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis, and myopathy. A girl with fronto-ethmoidal meningocele has been enrolled in the free surgery program offered by Noordhoff Foundation. Thirty persons with goiter are still waiting for their relief. Follow up visit will be conducted within this month to check on the status of the patients.

Volunteers of the mission came from 7 different countries: Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Ireland, USA, France, Japan). A volunteer came from Switzerland to help prepare for the mission but he had to go home two weeks before the actual mission.

THE SPONSORS OF THE MISSION who made the mission possible were:
PAL Foundation
Roche Pharma
3M Rodge Pharmamed Sales
Tanay Commnunity Clinic (discounted price for xrays)
Society of Saint Pius X District of Asia
James Negroso (transportation of medicines, volunteers, patients)
Col. Honorato Etis and Madam Virgie (overall assistance: lodging, coordination of mission activities, tour of foreign volunteers, transportation of patients)
Armed Forces of the Philippines, Camp Capinpin (security, tents, dentists and dental assistants)
Ma. Isabel Ponayo and Sierra Madre Hotel (lodging, medicine procurement, follow up care of patients)
Villa Pilar (free lodging)
Cathy Kowzun and Barandilla Restaurant (discounted price for food catering)
Legion of Mary (community relations and catechism)
Bagwis Guardians (security)
Major Alfonso Besario (President of Townsite Home and Lot Occupants Association, Inc.)
Nery Ripalda and Department of Agriculture employees cooperative (tables and chairs)

Photos of the mission are available at:

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