What are we here for?

What is health?

In the early twentieth century, there was a global redefinition of health. WHO defined health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO, 1946). This definition is grounded on the principle that a patient is an individual only. However, with the continuous development of research and investigations, new arguments and ideas arose that sought to place health within a broader, more inclusive, paradigm. Thus, the development of the idea of Public health, which focuses on people and communities as a whole, gave emphasis to disease prevention and health promotion, not just curing illnesses. This was a groundbreaking change in the medical mindset of the times. It implies that people should be healed in all aspects. It sought to make healthcare available, universally acceptable, and cost affordable. In short, it aimed towards the principle of health for all.

In full force towards this aim, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University - School of Medicine (ADZU-SOM) has a mission to help provide solutions to the health problems of people and communities of Western Mindanao, with a vision of producing physicians responsive to the changing patterns of health care development and the needs of these communities, and is sensitive to the social and cultural realities of Western Mindanao. Its curriculum was also developed around the firm philosophy of being a community-oriented medical education.

In line with this, the school creates opportunities for intimate immersion in communities where in the student doctors live with the people, talk with the people and eat with the people. In this way, they can think and feel as the community people do. As a result, this improved the health care system of even the remotest areas and most underserved communities (termed as Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas or GIDA). This is evidenced by better health outcomes and better quality of health care.

That is why the batch of 2024, Manus Dei Patriae, is assigned to a municipality for 4 years. Their assigned area is Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur, on the following barangays: Lower Mahayag, San Isidro, Boniao, Lower Salug, Sta. Cruz, Diwan, and Guripan.

The community exposure begins as early as the first semester of their first year and continues for the next three years. The students are then expected to develop a comprehensive Community Health Plan aiming for the betterment of the community's quality of health and life. The students of this blog were assigned in Barangay Guripan.

The first exposure started on January 4, 2019 and ended on January 31, 2019. As an entry point into the life of the community, we were expected to establish rapport with the people, perform a ocular survey, gather demographic data, execute health system analysis, identify the social determinants affecting their health, gather epidemiological data, and identify current issues and problems concerning public health. All of this is for the goal of making health available to the community. This is our heartbeat and our foremost aim.

This is why we are here.

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