Crowdfunding for Spratly health clinic launched
MANILA, Philippines – A group of Filipinos abroad is aiming to donate five hospital beds for the clinic on the tiny community on Pag-asa Island (Thitu) serving as a vital symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The group #pagasaKIG, led by Calvin Mangubat of California, launched the project on March 8 and aims to raise $4,000 until May 6.
The village, surrounded by neighbors aggressively claiming the resource-rich territory, has a clinic but not a single hospital bed.
“Bare na bare ang clinic at wala pang any equipment or patient beds. Sahig lang ang hinihigaan,” Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. told INQUIRER.net.
Virus brought by visitors
He said the most common health problem on the island is flu.
“Problema doon pag may bagong dating na tao may dala ring new virus. Usually flu, nagkahawa-hawa lalo na ang mga bata. Minsan sabay-sabay sa clinic. Last summer nangyari yun tapos walang patient beds at holders ng dextrose,” Bito-onon said.
The group #pagasaKIG has been sending items to Kalayaan since 2012.
“The beds we are donating are manually operated, three-crank hospitals beds. These low-tech beds are not only affordable and not dependent on electrical power — which is unreliable on the island — they are also easier to maintain than electric hospital beds (which may become the object of a future project),” the group said.
“Because of the challenge of getting to the islands, which can only be reached reliably from sea between April and May of each year, the beds must not require support by specially trained technical support personnel to keep operational,” it added.
The isolated island is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) and is the largest of the islands and islets occupied by the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. It is also claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Pagasa, a fifth class municipality, has a population of about 200 civilians and military personnel. It has a multipurpose hall, elementary school and commercial communications tower.
The clinic built in 2013 is staffed by 10 nurses and health workers taking turns in deployment to the island.
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