Another medical mission heading to Philippines - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Another medical mission heading to Philippines

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The Guam Medical Association may be done with the first wave of their mission to provide aid to the Philippines. But team leader Dr. Hoa Ngyuen has embarked on another mission hoping to get better cooperation in the future from Philippine Airlines.

Following last month's super typhoon that ripped through the Philippines, the Guam Medical Association along with the St. Luke's Medical Center conducted a joint mission to help thousands in need of medical attention in Northern Cebu. Specifically the team saw patients in the towns of Daanbantayan, Sogod and San Remigio. Teresa Aguipo said, "First time in history typhoon coming here we are very afraid our house no have roof."

But even before the medical mission could get their boots on the ground in Cebu, the team experienced a problem once they landed in Manila. "We asked to see if we can ship the medications down to Cebu at no charge because it's a medical mission or to pay at a discount rate but for some reason Philippine Airline does not allow the whole team to ship anything above 10 kilogram and anything in excess of 10 kilogram they charge the full price rather than give any discount. At all so we end up spending quite a bit of money," Dr. Nguyen said.

According to medical mission team leader Dr. Nguyen they weren't anticipating paying over one-thousand dollars in shipping costs and were hoping the flag carrier airline would have given them a break because of the humanitarian operation. "We don't mind paying our own ticket but because the medication and supplies are so heavy," he said.  "We left behind about 40-50 boxes that had to be sent back to Saint Lukes because of the excess luggage. Because the excess luggage is too much."

KUAM News spoke with the duty manager of Philippine Air at the Guam International Airport, Mr Romel Lat. Responding to the concerns of Dr. Ngyuen he apologized for the inconvenience but added their authorization is not limitless and employees must follow their directives. He suggested however that in future missions that GMA and the St Lukes Medical Center write a letter to the president of Philippine Airlines requesting a waiver of the shipping costs. Unfortunately for the first mission time was not a luxury as the team wanted to send help as soon as possible.

He said, "On our recent medical mission because we deployed so rapidly we don't have any time to arrange for shipping at that time all the shipping tools they can go by boat down to Cebu its all taken so we don't have any way to get our supply down there."

During the first wave of the three day medical mission the team from Guam treated close to 3,000 patients.

We should note on the first leg of the trip to Manila, the team flew United Airlines which waived all shipping costs for the medicine and medical equipment needed for the mission. Two more missions are planned for January and February.

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