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Foundation to train more IP ‘barefoot doctors’

MANILA, Oct. 24, 2014 – A religious foundation is eyeing to train more indigenous people (IP) “barefoot doctors” starting next year to give more ethnic communities in far-flung areas access to health services and awareness regarding their right to ancestral lands.

After having trained 229 IP “barefoot doctors” from 2005 to 2008, Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Missions, Inc. (FOLPMI) aims to train about 90 more beginning in early 2015, said FOLPMI founder and president Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo.

Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, nun-surgeon, founder and president of Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc. (FOLPMI) (Photo: Oliver Samson)

10-module course

Participants from IP communities inhabiting isolated mountain areas in different parts of the country will be flown to Manila to undergo a 10-module course, which was developed by volunteer physicians and other medical practitioners based on the community health workers’ manual of UP Medicine Community, she said.

One module will lecture the IPs on the proper prevention and treatment of common health complaints, like fever, cold and cough, chest pain, and loose bowel movement.

Prevention and treatment of more serious health conditions such as tuberculosis, pulmonary disease, dengue, and malaria are parts of the course, as well.

Participants will also undergo training on proper breastfeeding, pregnancy, and immunization.

Diagnosis, prescription

The targeted number of participants for trainings in early 2015 will be divided into three batches, each consisting of about 30 people, Maamo said.

FOLPMI will provide the participants with free board and lodging and a daily allowance to compensate for their absence from work while in training, she said.

After completion of the training, the participants can prescribe particular medicines for certain diseases they will be taught to diagnose, Maamo said.

Aside from the 229 IP “barefoot doctors” trained in Manila, Maamo also trained 17 IPs during her mission in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato in the 1970s.


Malnutrition, poverty, and illiteracy among indigenous people in Lake Sebu prompted her to train more IP “barefoot doctors” after her superior recalled her to Manila.

“Some of IPs die without seeing a doctor in their entire life,” she said.

Maamo, a surgeon-nun, founded FOLPMI in 1986 after her return from Lake Sebu.
In 1997, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for her pioneering work on IP “barefoot doctors” in Lake Sebu and other works of the foundation.

Aside from the Ramon Magsaysay Award, she also received over 20 awards, including the Most Outstanding Physician of the Philippines Award (1994) and the International Peace Prize (2003).

FOLMPI is currently chaired by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, formerly by the late Fr. James Reuter. (Oliver Samson)

Synod vital for ‘cultural evangelization’—priest

ROME, Italy, Oct. 24, 2014 – A Filipino Catholic priest considers the recently held Synod of Bishops on the Family a significant part of “cultural evangelization”, which, the head of Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, states is a must for world-wide evangelization.

The Synod of Bishops on the Family concluded on Oct. 19 with a Holy Mass during which Pope Paul VI was also beatified. (Photo: Salt and Light TV)

Fr. Norman Melchor Peña, Jr. of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Culture (ECC) said the Church, as “vanguard of evangelization”, recognizes the indispensable role of the family in nourishing culture.

He believes the opening exhortation, in which the Holy Father told the delegates “to speak with clarity and listen with humility” set the tone of the Synod.

Following closely the many issues presented to the Synod Fathers, Peña agrees with Pope Francis that the event is a “journey of human beings”.

“Admittedly, along with moments of pressure, strain, and fatigue, there were also moments of consolation, enthusiasm, and grace,” he said.

“This grace highlights much the culture of belief that God is at our side on the journey—incarnated ‘in the strong who feel compelled to help the less strong, in those who are more experienced who are to serve others’, and in those families in most need who remained adamant in their faith and hope in God.,” he added.

According to Peña, the five “synodal temptations” the pope named have spawned “cultural propensities” which are worthy of reflection.

These are the temptation to hostile inflexibility; temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness; temptation to come down off the cross, to please only people and not God; temptation to transform stones into bread, abandoning the value of suffering and throwing stones at others; and temptation to neglect the deposit of faith and one’s identity as custodians of God’s creation.

As parts of culture, the priest noted each of these was addressed, not only to the delegates but also to all “who live in that culture”.

Quoting one Synod Father, he said, “There are lots of negative things that families experience today, but we should not forget that there are also lots of positive experiences and on these should be based responses to the challenges as they too are gifts of God”. (Raymond A. Sebastián)