March 8 and a book for doctors

Walk the thought, 2007-08 No. 4

Last March 8, prominent women leaders and women networks organized a march from Welcome Rotunda to Plaza Miranda to celebrate International Women’s Day. I could have added to the collective voice of women seeking for truth, accountability and justice in this country. Instead, I chose to attend a book launch.

It would be as meaningful, I thought, to join Drs. Willie and Anna Liza Ong and Dr. Enrico Paolo Banzuela that day as they launch their book, Survival Guide for Doctors (and Non-Doctors, Too) To Stay or Go Abroad, because in our work to promote the welfare of the very young Filipino children, I have witnessed the ailments of our health care system.

Everyone is aware of the crisis of the medical profession in our country. Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, former secretary of the Department of Health and UP Vice Chancellor for Research, described the exodus of thousands of Filipino doctors who have given up their profession to become nurses in a foreign land “not a brain drain anymore; it’s brain hemorrhage.”

I told the authors and their guests that by attending the book launch, I was also celebrating the hundred-thousand barangay health workers, barangay nutrition scholars and rural health midwives who are delivering primary health care support in the barangays. All of them are women.

When I go back to the communities, I will share with these women that there are numerous doctors who are still staying on bravely in this country to continue serving the children they immunize, weigh and feed; the mothers they take care from pre-natal, birth and delivery, and post-natal stages; the neighbors they counsel and refer to the health centers and the municipal and provincial halls and hospitals.

I will narrate to them doctors’ stories of survival and their collective effort to empower each other through the Movement of Idealistic and Nationalistic Doctors (MIND).

I will pass on to them the authors’ tips on public speaking, tips for guesting in their local radio stations, secrets of networking, and how to get Boy Abunda to rally for them as he does for Drs. Willie and Anna Liza and their television program, Makabayang Duktor!

Survival Guide is a book about courage. It is about serving in and helping this country, one step of courage at a time. Its pages invoke powerful messages of action to save the nation’s health with the same intensity as E. Rodriguez Avenue was peopled to speak for women’s rights and dignity on March 8 and the same perseverance as our country’s community health workers toil everyday.

It is a big thing to be a real server of people and a solution-seeker for our ailing systems. Yet, done to the utmost, service comes back sweetly and nourishes the heart of you. Service then allows you to connect to the goodness you have. For the ultimate solutions, as the authors propose, are altruism, faith, respect, compassion and love.

How do we learn to help? The book answers, By being helped yourself.

Acknowledge that people like mentors and role models are also caring for you. Look at others’ faces and find their support touching you. Be a child in spirit–accept a hand shake or a note of goodbye from a colleague with all good wishes. Watch your burdens taken away as God pulls you back to your potential, and feel accomplished yet aware that you have done nothing.

When you are helped this much, then you can help and serve others.

Copyright 2007-2008

What were the instances when you were helped by the same people you intended to help in your volunteer work?

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