Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995









The Outlook (2): Philippines - Amai Pakpak Medical Center and endoscopy technology transfer

Publication date:2019-08-07
By Dr. Shigeru Suganami M.D., Ph.D. (President of AMDA)

Myself with Dr. Chua

The man who prompted the collaboration between AMDA and Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) in Mindanao, Philippines was AMDA International Adviser Dr. Primitivo Chua. At the time when he headed Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Dr. Chua toured medical facilities around the country to assess the local condition.

When he came across APMC in the city of Malawi, he felt the urge to fulfill the hospital’s severe shortage of medical devices. Later on, Dr. Chua invited eight MPs to observe the hospital, and as a result, managed to obtain much needed equipment. In recognition of his profound deed, a local senior Muslim organization presented Dr. Chua with an honorary “White Sultan” award.

In March 2014, Dr. Chua and I with AMDA Bangladesh chairperson Prof. Sarder A. Nayeem visited APMC to discuss a plan pertaining to medical technology transfer. It was an oversea training program AMDA has provided in developing countries, and we wanted doctors at APMC to undergo endoscopy and laparoscopy training outside the Philippines.

As it turned out, it was decided that AMDA Headquarters would be in charge of the endoscopy program, while Japan Bangladesh Friendship Hospital (which is closely linked to AMDA Bangladesh) would take care of the laparoscopy-side of the project.

Since APMC was facing a lack of doctors, it was not easy for them to send their doctors abroad. But ever since the hospital was promoted to a national hospital two years ago, it had grown to be a full-fledged medical facility in which both the building and the services were largely improved. Although there are a number of safety issues (such as the undetonated bombs) to be cleared, I am confident that the technology-transfer project will see the light of day in the near future. At the same time, I firmly believe that setting an example as such will help create momentum among other local hospitals to follow suit.

Visit to Amai Pakpak in 2014

Observing the facility

In December 2011, a large typhoon hit the city of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, leaving 1,259 people dead with more than 80,000 households (440,000 people) displaced. Thanks to Dr. Chua who used to head Philippine Academy of Family Medicine, AMDA was able to organize a relief mission with the society’s local branch. It was at that time when I was introduced to former APMC chief Dr. Amer Saber, an influential figure in Marawi’s Muslim community.

Due to the region’s ethnoreligious background, medical teams from the outside have been often denied access to the area. For that matter, my only regret was that we could not go further deep into the area where the extent of the damage was severe.

Dr. Chua examining a patient

AMDA Philippines relief team

If AMDA were to exchange a MOU with APMC, there are two items I would like to include in the terms. They are, namely, 1) endoscopy-laparoscopy technology transfer, and 2) cooperation at the time of crisis such as natural and man-made disasters. As the hospital now has its own medical relief team, they are keen to deploy medical personnel whenever natural disasters hit the locality.

Amai Pakpak Medical Center

Receiving an explanation on its history

The history of APMC dates back to the time when the Philippines was a colony of the United States. And during the Second World War, the facility was used by the Japanese Imperial Army. In the hillside at the back of APMC lies Mindanao States University. Considering Marawi’s location, it is not hard to imagine how geographically important the city was in governing the island of Mindanao as a whole.

Needless to say, carrying out efficient and effective relief has been at the top of the agenda for every medical relief organization. In order to realize this, collaborating with aid givers from different sectors is essential. By optimizing their unique characteristics, medical organizations need to work with likeminded others beyond sectoral boundaries. In short, this is precisely what AMDA is trying to do with its World Platform for Disaster Medicine. It is a scheme that enables a multipartite collaboration with UN organizations, governments, medical associations, NGOs, universities, public interest organizations and private companies, thereby leading to coherent and timely assistance.

Last not but least, I am eagerly looking forward to Mindanao for the path it will take in the course of time.

    •  GPSP Soul and Medicine Program (Peace Building)
    •  Philippines
    •  2019