The soon-to-be operational cancer center of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center is the result of a multi-sectoral approach even from the most unexpected places.
Health Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial acknowledged this when she presided over the soft opening of the P300 million facility last April 11.
For years, the medical center suffered from the shutdown of its cobalt radiation facility, forcing numerous patients to go to Dagupan and Metro-Manila for their month-long therapy.
In a “suntok sa buwan” ( out of the blue) effort, cancer specialist, Dr. Jasmin Igama, chair of the BGHMC Cancer Institute, profiled the growing problem in a feasibility report that she and media here in Baguio submitted to an unlikely supporter – then Secretary Jessie Robredo of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Robredo had just keynoted the biennial convention of the Igorot Global Organization and was on his way for coffee at the Baguio Country Club when the report was delivered to him.
Promising to do what he could, Robredo referred the matter to the Department of Health and informing the hospital of developments after his follow-up calls.
“I think we have a result judging on the feedbacks from Secretary Robredo,” Dr. Igama later told this writer and regional director Helen Tibaldo of the Philipine Information Agency who accompanied her in presenting the paper on the urgent need for radiation therapy for the medical center.
“I remember handing to the late Secretary a feasibility study and a few days after, I was surprised that BGHMC was again included in the list of hospitals in the country where a cancer will be established. I believe he called up then (Health) Secretary (Enrique) Ona about this,” she recalled.
Recently, Baguio congressional Rep. Marquez Go was able to work out the release of a linear accelerator machine that produces beams that destroy cancer cells.
The center will also be equipped with a brachytherapy unit that uses x-ray beams generated by a machine that are directed at the tumor from outside the body.
The collective effort triggered by the late Secretary Robredo’s coming to Baguio will benefit numerous cancer patients who will no longer have to spend more by renting housing facilities while undergoing radiation therapy outside Baguio. /Ramon Dacawi#