The Department of Health-MIMAROPA kicked off the Surgical Caravan in the region to meet the needs of residents in Marinduque, one of the five provinces that comprise the administrative region. More than 90 patients were attended to successfully during the caravan. 

A team of surgeons, anaesthesiologists, and nurses from the Rizal Medical Center (RMC) traveled to Marinduque on July 13 to provide free surgical operations for residents who have difficulty accessing health services either due to location or lack of funds.

The surgical procedures were conducted at the Dr Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital in Boac, the provincial capital.

According to Dr Rachel Rowena Reyes-Garcia, provincial health officer, the surgical caravan was organized following test results of residents who went through check-up rounds between September to December in 2016, under the 'ToDOH Alaga, May TSekAP na, May Operasyon Pa!' programme. A total of 81 patients required minor or major surgery. 

The 91 beneficiaries came from the towns of Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpos, Sta. Cruz, and Torrijos.

Test results were submitted to, and evaluated by, the RMC team during the pre-surgical caravan phase.

Residents who qualified for the free surgery had the procedure performed when the team arrived in Boac, while cases involving a giant tumour, goiter, osteoma, hypospadia, fistula, nasal polyps and a mass in the colon had to be referred for transfer.

Regional Director Eduardo Janairo looks on as a surgeon performs minor surgery in Boac, Marinduque at the Surgical Caravan.

Regional Director Eduardo Janairo looks on as a surgeon performs minor surgery in Boac, Marinduque at the Surgical Caravan.

The visiting surgical team, headed by Dr Francisco Rivera IV, attended to both major cases (thyroidectomy, hydrocoelectomy and hernia) and minor cases such as skin tag, lipoma, and breast mass, among others.

"This surgical caravan is a greatly anticipated aspiration for 20 million Filipinos who are in need of surgeries around the country. Their medical needs can now be addressed immediately at no cost to our indigent patients," DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C Janairo said at the launch.

The Surgical Caravan is in line with the Philippine Health Agenda (PHA) as part of its service delivery guarantee. It aims to make minor or major operations available to indigent patients at no cost and decongest public medical facilities in the Philippines.

The PHA guarantees health care support across all stages of life, establishment of a Service Delivery Network, and improvement of universal health insurance coverage.

Under the Surgical Caravan, DOH hospitals, regional offices, local government units (LGUs) and Philhealth - the state's health insurance provider - will collaborate in the identification and clearance of the beneficiaries, funding, sharing of resources and arrangements for the project implementation.

DOH-run medical facilities will serve as visiting hospitals, while certain LGU hospitals will be the host hospitals.

Other costs such as medicines, supplies, laboratory, diagnostic procedures, professional fees from pre- to post-operation may be covered by the DOH Medical Assistance Program Fund.

Health officials explained that all Philhealth claims under the Surgical Caravan will be marked/stamped as 'DOH Surgical Caravan.'

Dr Janairo noted that government has alloted Php 3 billion to continuously fund the Surgical Caravan initiatives around the country.

He was profuse in his gratitude to the visiting surgical team from RMC not only for their hard work but for their willingness to help.

For the MIMAROPA region, visiting hospitals include Rizal Medical Center (Marinduque - Dr Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital, and Romblon Provincial Hospital; Quirino Memorial Medical Center (Mindoro Occidental - Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital and Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital); while the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital and Ospital ng Palawan will both serve as hospital hospital and visiting hospital in Palawan. MIMS

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