Medical mission from Hawaii gears up for return to Leyte
• Ohana Medical Mission will check up on survivors treated last December
• Will also provide free medical screenings and minor surgeries
• To donate $300,000 worth of medications
HONOLULU, Hawaii— Volunteers with the Ohana Medical Mission (OMM) are making final preparations for a return mission to Tacloban, Leyte, and neighboring towns in Northern Leyte in the Philippines that were devastated late last year by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
Scheduled for July 1 to 5, the mission’s volunteer physicians and medical professionals will assess the health conditions of patients they treated in December 2013. It has about 38 volunteers from Hawaii and the mainland and about 10 more from the Philippines.
The team will also provide free medical consultation, diabetes and blood sugar screenings, HTN/ BP screenings, psychiatry diagnosis and treatment and minor surgical procedures.
Volunteer physician Dr. Seiji Yamada last year treated patients suffering physical injuries that were directly related to the typhoon, as well as anxiety, insomnia and other mental health issues. “Having seen the sheer devastation wrought by the typhoon, I am interested in how the health of the survivors has evolved since December,” he says.
Volunteers will also provide continuing medical education on various topics including hypertension and diabetes, bleeding disorders of pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder and disaster preparedness and climate change.
OMM is the outreach arm of the Philippine Medical Association of Hawaii (PMAH), an organization comprised of doctors who were trained in the Philippines and regularly give back to their home country via numerous missions of mercy and outreach projects.
OMM is preparing to donate about $300,000 worth of medications. To provide continuity of care, OMM has contracted with local Leyte physicians to continue providing weekly medical care with medications and supplies that were previously provided.
“We expect to see more infectious diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory tract infections now that it is rainy season there,” says volunteer physician Dr. Charlie Sonido.
“At the same time we are also ready to diagnose and treat anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders, which are expected following disasters like Yolanda,” he adds. “Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) will be back in the forefront now that acute problems are waning.”
For Yamada, the follow-up mission will provide opportunities to better understand medical care delivery and public health in the wake of natural disasters, and how more effective strategies can be formulated for the Philippines and other archipelagic nations.
“The scientific consensus is starting to recognize that man-made global warming affects our health not just by gradual rises in temperature or ocean levels,” Yamada says. “Global warming will drive the frequency and intensity of severe weather events such as Typhoon Haiyan. I want to better understand the various mechanisms by which climate change affects human health in order to help move our society toward a more sustainable future.”
The mission chair is Dr. Romeo Perez and co-chair is OMM President Dr. Russell Kelly.
Before arriving in Tacloban, Leyte, in the Visayas region, the team will conduct a medical mission in Caloocan City in Metro Manila on June 29.
Donations are still being accepted from members of the public who may be interested in providing financial assistance. Please call JP Orias at (808) 387-8297 for more details on how to donate to the mission.
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