DAVAO CITY, August 26th – The eighteen-year-old Lisa Dacaw walked at least two hours early Sunday to have her firstborn child checked for cough and loose bowel movement.
"Thank God, it is not so serious," said Dacaw, a member of the Matigsalug tribe, after the doctors had examined her three-month-old child, who had been sick for days.
"We live quite far from the city center and there is no medical clinic in the area," said the young mother, who lives with her family in the village of Buda on the border of Davao City and Bukidnon.
"That's why we are happy that there are medical missions, which is the only time we can get free medical checks and medicines," she added.
Dacaw and inhabitants of Buda and Datu Salumay in Davao City and Sinuda, Lorega and Tawas in the city of Kitaotao in the province of Bukidnon used a free medical mission on the initiative of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace (OPAPP), National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), and the Buda Community Healthcare Center Committee of German Doctors.
Several physicians from the Davao City Health Office and private groups have offered to provide free medical examinations to the residents. Pharmaceutical companies also provided free medication.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza said that, apart from providing medical assistance to the residents, the mission also focused on educating people on how to deal with stress and other mental health problems that, in his opinion, affect a person's overall physical health.
"We can not be peaceful and we can not radiate peace if we have both physical and mental pain," said Dureza.
He noted that a majority of the native population of Mindanao lives in remote, underdeveloped communities and therefore has limited access to health and social services.
Dureza said that this is the reason that the national government's programs are aimed at promoting the principles of greater inclusiveness and participation, especially among the vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors such as the Lumads.
Another goal of the mission is to provide people with socio-economic packages here to ease their economic situation.
Luciana Blando, 57, who suffered from chronic asthma, received special treatment from a group of locally trained therapists from the group called #SprayingPeace.
"I am happy to have received medication and therapy as a cure for my asthma," she said as she was being massaged by a local therapist in a primary school that was temporarily converted into a medical clinic.
Dr. Mary Jean Netario Cruz, a naturopathic practitioner, said that they have trained local residents in therapeutic massage.
"This is to support our intervention and also to provide livelihood," she said.
Cruz started the same program during the rehabilitation after the disaster caused by super typhoon Yolanda in Central Visayas and internally displaced people from the armed conflict in Marawi City. (OPAPP)