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.
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.
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)