Doctors from Hawaii gear up for return mission to Leyte

Posted at 06/25/14 1:24 PM

MANILA – A team of doctors from Hawaii are heading back to the Philippines for another medical mission in Tacloban and neighboring towns in northern Leyte that were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.

Set for July 1-5, 2014, volunteer physicians and medical professionals of the Ohana Medical Mission (OMM) will assess the health conditions of patients they treated in December 2013.

“Having seen the sheer devastation wrought by the typhoon, I am interested in how the health of the survivors has evolved since December,” said Dr. Seiji Yamada.

During the first medical mission, Dr. Yamada said they treated patients suffering from typhoon-related injuries as well as anxiety, insomnia and other mental health issues.

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.

The current team is comprised of about 38 volunteers from Hawaii and the mainland and about 10 more from the Philippines.

The team will provide free medical consultation, diabetes and blood sugar screenings, HTN/ BP screenings, psychiatry diagnosis and treatment and minor surgical procedures.

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.

“We expect to see more infectious diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory tract infections now that it is rainy season there,” said volunteer physician Dr. Charlie Sonido.

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 are also ready to diagnose and treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders which are expected following disasters like Yolanda. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) will be back in the forefront now that acute problems are waning,” added Dr. Sonido.

For Dr. 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.

“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,” Dr. Yamada said.

The mission chair is Dr. Romeo Perez and co-chair is OMM President Dr. Russell Kelly.

Prior to arriving in Tacloban, Leyte in the Visayas region, the team will conduct a medical mission in Caloocan City in Metro Manila on June 29th.