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October 9, 2012

The Story Behind The Numbers

A few weeks ago, the NGO that I am working for was invited to provide resource speakers to discuss the Philippine Health Situation and how our NGO has attempted to address the current health challenges confronting the country. It was during the City-wide Health Summit annually organized and sponsored by the Tambal Society, a student-initiative of the medical students of the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City. The school would usually hold this summit and other activities during the annual Medicine Week which also coincides with the University Week (or currently known as Lasallian Week). There were three of us who represented the NGO. I was tasked to share the overview on the latest health statistics of the country.

The summit was attended by municipal health officers of Negros Occidental, the Provincial Health Office, students of the University and other private individuals and organizations. More than just presenting the statistics, I attempted to present the lecture in a story. The visual aid I used is posted here (via

During the open forum, a former teacher of mine stood up and asked me why I chose to stay in public health which to many may not seem as lucrative as a private practice. I answered her that it is because I feel that this is where my passion lies. I find it socially unjust to see the poor suffer from the inequities in health care. One city health officer stood up to share his own story as well when he was still starting as a rural health physician. He was assigned in a town south of Negros which was infested with rebels. He once went to that far-flung town to respond to a cholera outbreak. While in the middle of consultation, a nun approached him and told him, "You must really be loving your work, doc." For him, that statement of the nun affirmed his own passion and purpose in life.
Another municipal health officer also stood up and spontaneously shared to the medical students present how public health can be rewarding and fulfilling. While it can be difficult but public health "has its own perks, too," she said.
The summit ended with discussions on Health Leadership and Governance and our NGO also presented our model for partnership between an academic institution and local government units in addressing health outcomes through strengthening health leadership and governance. I always look forward to interacting with students and young people. I feel like I am influencing the outcome of the future by planting seeds in the furrows of these students' minds and hearts. May they be challenged as well as inspired to serve their country first and think always of the betterment of their society.
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