On Thursday morning we flew to Cagayan de Oro, a city in northern Mindanao. Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), a hospital in the centre of the city, is a vital part of the Mindanao Pediatric Cancer Care Network. The team is led by Dr Fernando Go, a wonderful haematologist. NMMC treats patients from across the densely forested region, with some coming from as far afield as Butuan and Zamboanga. The hospital was busy: patients and staff crowded wards and corridors; we dodged the workmen who are transforming the site.
Both the Head of the paediatrics department, Dr Patricia Gaid, and the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital pledged support for Dr Mae Dolendo’s efforts to incorporate NMMC into the regional network of childhood cancer centres. During our tour of the paediatrics department, which included the eight-bed room used for pediatric oncology, Mae said that the centre in Davao had similar beginnings. (That unit now has 25 beds and provides multidisciplinary care for each patient.) The hospital requires more space for the increasing number of patients, and more doctors, nurses and allied health workers to care for them. But we know that the support of the network will enable NMMC to develop into a place where more children get the treatment and care they need.
(We spent most of Wednesday travelling back from General Santos City (GenSan). Dinner was with the incoming president of the Davao Children’s Cancer Fund (DCCFI) and his family.)