Gradually Banwaon health workers have been trained and clinics built. Today the bulk of the day to day medical work is carried out by local women. Government health workers travel up regularly to administer vital immunizations to children.
In the early days of the Banwaon mission work, common diseases such as measles would at times wipe out many of a family’s children. Pneumonia, asthma, intestinal parasites and infections also left their toll. The infant mortality rate was 50%.
That appalling rate has been drastically cut thanks to simple but highly effective things such as clean water being brought to the villages, good hygiene being taught, a basic clinic being stocked and a push by the Philippines Government to have all children immunized.
As we are merely lay-medical workers ourselves, anything we cannot handle is relayed to the excellent help of the German Doctors’ Hospital in the coastal city of Cagayan de Oro.
Most times that we have supply flights via our mission plane, patients are sent out on the backflights so they don’t have to endure the long motorbike trip by road.
In co-operation with the generous help of the German Doctors’ Hospital (GDH), the missionary team have hosted two Surgical Clinics. The GDH surgeons and staff were flown into the village in the mission plane along with their medical gear.
They did hundreds of consultations as well as performed surgeries in one of our missionary houses, temporarily set up as an operating theatre.
The second Clinic was for cataract surgeries. This was hugely successful and greatly appreciated by more than twenty older Banwaon people who within a day could once again see clearly.
Tuberculosis has long been endemic in the area and in the 1990s was one of the most difficult medical issues we faced as a missionary team. This killer disease was frequently passed from family member to family member due to the close communal living standards and lack of understanding of the disease and how it is transmitted.
In 2000, God brought along a Scottish scientist who had a keen interest in helping the Banwaon. He was able to help establish a TB testing clinic right here in the village, assist us in training tribal clinic workers to take sputum samples, prepare and read slides and then administer and oversee a correct medication program to eradicate the disease.
Within just a couple of years, TB was virtually wiped out of the immediate and surrounding area.
Sadly, in recent years it has made a come-back. Currently we are working, once again in conjunction with the German Doctors’ Hospital, to help TB patients.
Although much of the help of the GDH is subsidised for indigenous people, there are still costs involved.
However it takes just $10 (P400) for a TB test. Pocket change for most of us, but two days’ wages for a Banwaon person. If a test is positive for TB, GDH have committed to providing a complete treatment program.
If you would like to help a tribal person be tested for tuberculosis, please see our Contact page (Banwaon Project Fund).
There is a waiting list of patients with chronic medical conditions hoping to travel on a backflight whenever the mission plane comes in. As well, there are still occasions when we need to call an emergency medical evacuation flight. Currently these costs are covered personally by us as the only resident missionaries, with help from New Tribes Mission Aviation in emergency situations.
An emergency flight costs about P9,000/$220. (Banwaon Project Fund)
“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”