The Health Exemplars
A noted surgeon, published author, host of a radio program educating the public on prevalent medical problems, and the brain behind the innovative Mobile Surgical Unit for which he has gained the moniker as the “Doctor on Wheels,” Dr. Juan Dela Peña Sanchez, Jr. has spearheaded medical-surgical missions in many underserved areas in the country, performing various types of surgeries for free. Consistently doing these missions month after month for more than 10 years now, he and his fellow volunteers have helped transform the lives of thousands of marginalized Filipinos.
A specialist in internal medicine and endocrinology, Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan has given true meaning to the role of a physician as a health educator and ‘influencer.’ With her expertise in health informatics, she has adeptly harnessed social media to promote health literacy and positive health-seeking behavior in the public. Her health literacy campaigns have contributed significantly in helping patients have a better understanding of their illnesses, empowering them to make appropriate health decisions with their attending physicians. As Director of the University of the Philippines (Manila) Interactive Learning Center, she has also advocated for the use of innovative teaching strategies in medical education to help train medical professionals and medical students to become better health communicators.
The first and biggest medical sorority in the Philippines and in Asia, the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority has consistently shown its zeal in fulfilling its mission of serving marginalized members of society, and promoting positive health-seeking behavior in the public with its healthy lifestyle and various health education campaigns such as the Women Empowerment and Literacy through Health Education (W.E.A.L.T.H.). The Sorority has gone beyond the ‘sisterhood’ which other similar sororities typify by giving sincere meaning to the adage that everyone must strive to be good stewards by being her ‘poor sister’s keeper,’ and it has consistently done so with its various social responsibility projects for the last 82 years of its existence.
With his unstinting advocacy against smoking, Dr. Edgardo Ulysses Nguyen Dorotheo has been actively involved in various global campaigns for tobacco control, which has made significant milestones in public health not only in the Philippines but in neighboring countries as well. Dr. Dorotheo has played a key role in various healthy lifestyle programs and advocacies to prevent noncommunicable diseases, with tobacco control as his foremost advocacy. He is one of the leading and outspoken advocates for the sin tax reform law as well as the inclusion of graphic health warnings in cigarette packages. He is currently associated with a number of international organizations for tobacco control while practicing his profession as a neuro-opthalmologist in the Philippines.
Believing that health professionals would be better equipped to fight a potentially life-threatening disease if they are well informed about it, Dr. Richard Tesoro Mata has shown unwavering commitment to curb the rise in dengue cases in the country with his nationwide health education seminars and workshops for health workers and community leaders. He has conducted training for dengue coordinators on how communities can effectively do initiatives to prevent the rising incidence of dengue in their respective communities. Dr. Mata has also brought pride to the country for his multi-awarded Patient File App, a medical software innovation now being used by thousands, as an effective tool to track patient’s records and enhance patient care.
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Sharing the concern to urgently address the unabated rise in cardiovascular diseases, which kills more than 200,000 Filipinos yearly, Dr. Faith Guirnela-Go has untiringly organized well-attended lay forums in her hometown in Oroquieta City, as well as other towns in Misamis Occidental, under the auspices of the Foundation for Lay Education on Heart Diseases, (FLEHD) Inc. Without fanfare, she has conducted follow-up programs in her city to further spread awareness on cardiovascular diseases and promote primary prevention at the grassroots level.
The lack of public knowledge on Hepatitis B has led to misconceptions causing stigma for those who carry the virus, and to delayed treatment leading to liver cancer and end-stage liver disease. With its research undertakings, extensive continuing medical education programs (Liver Caravan Symposia), and campaigns for newborn vaccination against Hepatitis B, the Hepatology Society of the Philippines has accomplished an exemplary feat in filling in the knowledge and treatment gaps, empowering both the public and the medical community with the proper knowledge to combat this potentially fatal disease.
Her commendable works as a broadcast journalist have extended beyond in-depth coverage of government and political events, and well into a strong advocacy for a healthy lifestyle and other health-promotion programs. As a veteran news personality and celebrity mom, Rosamy “Jing” Castañeda-Velasco has extended her influence and that of her network (ABS-CBN) to help people in dire need of medical assistance, particularly children who are physically abused, maltreated and require treatment for their medical ailments through the Bantay Bata (Child Watch) of which she is the program director. Through her television program (Salamat Dok), she also helps address various family issues on health, empowering the public with basic knowledge on preserving health and wellness.