BATAC HOSPITAL BRINGS HOPE TO KIDS WITH CANCER
(From L-R) Lawyer Ferdinand Nicolas, president of Northwestern University; Dr. Ma. Lourdes K. Otayza, Medical Center Chief II; Batac City Mayor Alfredo Chua; Aurea Nolasco, Branch Manager-LandBank Batac; Salun-at Foundation chair Dr. Alfredo Valdez, and Dr. Jose B. Orosa III, Project Head of Arapaap Photo Exhibit, award the Arapaap portrait to one of the cancer patients of the hospital. (Photo by David James C. Aniñon)
BATAC CITY—When seven-year-old Princess Chloe Ramos was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer associated with the blood and bone marrow in 2015, her mother, Melimar Miguel, thought that her daughter would not survive and have a normal childhood.
However, four years have passed and Princess is now at the maintenance stage of her medications for ALL.
Her improved condition became evident as she was beaming when she stood side-by-side with princesses and mythical creatures in her photograph as part of the "Arapaap: A child’s dream photography exhibit" of the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMHMC).
“This is my daughter’s second chance in life and we remain hopeful that Princess will continue to show improvement. We would not make it without the support of all the people and this hospital who always comes up with activities and projects to help our children in their treatment,” said Melimar as she recounted her struggles as an unemployed single mother in 2015.
Under the Arapaap project, the support of the Ilocano community, including photographers, make-up artists, and fashion designers as well as some non-government organizations such as the Limitless Team, Salun-at Foundation, and the Ilocos Norte Medical Society, was harnessed in organizing a photo-exhibit last December 2018 at the Robinson’s Mall San Nicolas.
Through the activity, the MMMHMC was able to raise more than PHP200,000 which shall be used to put-up a trust fund for children with cancer and establish a Pedia-Oncology Play Center, a worthy endeavor that gives the young cancer patients to feel like they are children.
During the thanksgiving program, one of the highlights of the 51st foundation anniversary of the MMMHMC last Feb. 17, 2019, Dr. Jose B. Orosa III, the project head, said that such efforts as Arapaap will eventually lead to the overall goal of the hospital in building the hospital’s Cancer Center by 2020, which is a part of its commitment under the Performance Governance System.
"The Cancer Center will not only focus on bringing treatments but also on the promotion of research and community involvement,’’ Orosa said.
He said Arapaap creates a great impact in the province as it makes people realize that they have so much to contribute, most specially their talents, to improve the healthcare system in Ilocos Norte.
Recent studies conducted by the St. Jude Hospital in United States of America showed that almost no kid die of cancer in developing countries as a result of the support and access to high-quality but affordable treatment.
The same study shows that only one out of five cancer patients are cured and this situation continues to be a growing concern in public health care in the Philippines.
Dr. Maria Lourdes K. Otayza, Medical Center Chief II, lamented that there is no full support given to cancer patients in the Philippines.
“Kung suporta lang pala yung kailangan, bakit hindi natin ito [kayang] pagtulung-tulungan? (If support is only needed, why don't we pool our resoureces? ),” she said as vowed to boost efforts to more support to cancer research and treatment.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has recently signed the Republic Act 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, which will also make medicines affordable to cancer patients.
Orosa assured that the hospital will continue opening its doors to the people in the community who are willing to help through projects such as Arapaap, saying, “the provision of universal and quality healthcare service is best achieved with the help of the community.”
To date, the MMMHMC continues to receive donations in line with the Arapaap project.
Those interested to participate in the project may call the hospital hotline number at (077) 600-8000 or visit their website at mmmhmc.doh.gov.ph. (PNA)