The first day of our most recent medical mission trip to the Philippines involved serving 265 patients, many with hypertension and upper respiratory infections. One patient came to us with severely high blood pressure and dyspnea. Our doctors diagnosed her with possible congestive heart failure and hypertensive urgency and we were able to transfer her to a local hospital.
Our community education team focused on hand washing, basic hygiene, and ways to prevent diarrhea, and taught students how to make oral rehydration solution at home.
But we learned something as well. A group of local residents taught us about herbal medicine, how they make fire, and how to make a trap for animals using a bow and arrow. It was very interesting for our team to see how they live.
We also spent time in a remote village of the Aetas, a group of indigenous people in the Philippines. Right away we had to arrange for transportation to the local district hospital for a patient with a scorpion sting and one with pneumonia. One of our doctors made a house call to check on a severely ill, bedridden patient. The doctor advised she also be transferred to the hospital, and with quite a bit of coaxing, we were able to get her to go.
We spent a whole day offering community education to the villagers and talked to them about diarrhea and oral hydration solution, the importance of hand washing, skin diseases and wound care (we gave the villagers betadine solution to keep on hand), and dental education and oral health, where we learned that instead of dental floss, they use sewing thread. We also talked with them about diabetes and hypertension, which are common in their village, and mosquito-related diseases. After all our classes, the village children treated us to a music and dance program. Then we celebrated Thanksgiving!
At the end of our trip, we were all grateful for the experience of finding new friends and giving back to people in need. It has been truly a gift seeing the gratitude that the patients have shown us. We look forward to more opportunities in the future to be able to return to the Philippines.
“Thank you to all that who donated to make my medical mission trip possible. This experience was very eye opening and important to me, you have no idea. We (dentists, doctors, surgeon, students) were able to see over 600 patients all over the Philippines. Most of these cases are preventable but they don’t have enough resources to provide preventable precautions or are able to care for illnesses. To say the least, I’m very grateful for this opportunity and thankful for the life that I was given. First and definitely not my last trip” – Ji Su Lee, Pre-Med Student and Team Philippines Volunteer