Students' Take: Breaking new ground

The third annual outing by Project Isip impacted a trio of villages for the first time.

By Li Zhuoan Joan, Class of 2023

From 6 - 14 July 2019, a group of four Year 2 and four Year 1 students were joined by two Pre-Professional Education Office (PPEO) staff from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Ms Jamie Loo and Ms Shalimar, for Project Isip's third annual trip to Bacolod in the Philippines. We had the opportunity to work with the University of St La Salle (USLS) – not only did we get an insider's perspective of the Philippines' healthcare system, we also had a chance to collaborate with both their nursing and medical students.

This year, as we were visiting three new villages, we decided to conduct a health screening in order to reach out to more villagers. The common medical problems discovered can be used to implement more targeted initiatives on future trips. This information would also allow the local health centre to expand its medical database.

Project Isip together with the USLS medical students and Dr Nikki Talam, the Municipal Medical Officer of San Enrique after conducting a dengue teaching at Barangay Tabao Baybay

The stations set up for the health screening were nutritional status based on height and weight, visual acuity test using the Snellen chart, blood-pressure taking, blood glucose measurement, and family history. We also conducted some simple health education talks for the villagers. We taught them how to make healthy and delicious veggie burgers. We also demonstrated some simple stretching exercises, as well as the correct way to lift heavy objects.

Through our health screening, we identified people with vision problems, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and other complaints. This assured us that our health screening was indeed useful and benefitted the community. Those health problems were flagged to the coordinator from the College of Nursing so that she could coordinate with the health centres to help the identified patients. The partnership with USLS ensured that there would be long-term follow-up even after we return to Singapore.

One memorable experience was the full-day attachment to the San Enrique City Health Center to better understand the medical facilities available to locals living in rural villages and conduct a health screening for the patients. Together with the medical students from USLS, we met Dr Nikki Talam who was solely responsible for the healthcare of the entire community. In Singapore, we often take our easy access to healthcare for granted, so it was eye-opening to see that this entire community of over 20,000 people had to rely on one doctor.

We had a very fruitful trip this year. Hopefully, with the information gathered, we will be able to implement more targeted initiatives on our next trip.