While access to quality healthcare continues to be hampered by challenges, medical missions have become an increasingly vital source of support for low-income communities. Through time, they have gone beyond providing medical care and have taken up a new role: transforming the lives of individuals and communities.
The SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) recognizes just this, so it has made its mission to travel from Luzon to Mindanao to provide free medical care and services to thousands of patients from various hard-pressed communities.
Just recently, the medical mission team headed to the cities of Tuguegarao and Cauayan in Northern Luzon and provided services to thousands of low-income families. Two of them are Roland Bariuan and Angeline Cacanindin.
Strength to do more
Roland has been a tricycle driver in Tuguegarao City since 1994. But, two years ago, he suddenly felt weak and had to spend money on medical consultations and examinations.
“Napansin ko na kahit malakas ako kumain, namamayat ako at nanghihina. Nalaman ko na may diabetes na po ako. Pero hindi pwedeng pabayaan ko ang sarili ko. Hindi pwedeng maging tamad ako dahil may sakit ako. Kung tamad po ako mamasada, wala kaming pangaraw-araw at gagastushin pambili ng gamot,” he shared.
Determined to care for his health, he goes to the city health office for his routine checkups. The same drive to boost his health is also what led him to SM group’s medical mission, led by SMFI: “Dahil magastos po magpagamot, kadalasan po akong pumunta sa city health office para sa ahat ng aking checkups. Ngayon, nataon pong nalaman kong mayroon medical mission dito sa SM City Tuguegarao.
Through the medical mission, he received free consultation, blood tests, x-ray, and medicines–services that would break the bank if he had it done elsewhere. With the assistance extended to him, he had his scheduled checkup without worrying about the finances and even managed to put aside money originally allotted for medicine and laboratory tests.
“Ang kinikita ko sa pamamasada ang ginagamit ko at ng pamilya ko para sa aming pangangailangan. Kaya mahalaga sa akin ang aking kalusugan. Ang magandang pangangatawan ang nagbibigay sa akin ng lakas para mas lalo pang pagsumikapan ang pamamasada,” he said.
“Pero bilang tricycle driver, hindi namin maiiwasang magkasakit dahil usok ang kasabayan namin sa pamamasada. Kaya malaking tulong ang libreng check-up sa ang libreng gamot mula sa SM Foundation. Malaking tulong ito dahil kahit papaano, hindi ko muna iisipin ang pang gamot ko,” he added.
Making quality healthcare attainable
Roland’s fellow resident from Cagayan Valley, Angeline Cacanindin, knows full well the need to maintain a healthy body, for this is her tool to fulfill her duty as a house helper. She also believes that this is what her children can rely on as they strive in school.
However, her youngest daughter has been complaining about a toothache, which was already interfering with her nutrition and attendance in school.
“Butas na po ang mga ngipin niya. Kaya tuwing kumakain po siya, pumapasok ang kanin at nasasaktan siya. Hindi na rin po siya makapag focus sa school dahil sa sakit,” she shared.
“Nito lang po, tumawag po ang teacher niya at sinabing umiiyak po ang anak ko per hindi umiimik. Nung kinausap ko po siya, nalaman kong sobrang sakit na po ng ngipin niya. Umiyak din po ako dahil ramdam ko ‘yung sakit. Hindi ko siya agad madala sa dental clinic dahil nasa trabaho po ako at mahal din po ang magpabunot,” she said.
When she heard about SMFI’s medical mission in SM City Cauayan, she immediately brought her daughter for a checkup. Here, her daughter’s tooth was extracted. She also received free paracetamol, antibiotics, vitamins apt for her child’s age, and dental hygiene tips from volunteer dentists.
“Ang medical mission na ito ay malaking tulong kasi libre po serbisyo pati ang mga gamot. Ngayon po, makakapagsimula muli kaming subaybayan ang kalusugan ng aming anak para maganda po ang kinabukasan niya.” she said.
Through the ongoing medical missions of SMFI, many economically disadvantaged individuals like Roland and Angeline get lifelines–an intervention that provides immediate relief to those in need and a chance to access medical care and resources that are often unavailable or unattainable.