Coming together as one community with different cultural backgrounds but with the same goal to act as role models to provide directions that are relevant to the needs of the time, a newly-organized group composed of student-leaders known as SAPHE, embarked its meaningful mission to promote public health and environment in a General Assembly held at the MHAM AVR 5 last August 4, 2018.
Founded last July this year, SAPHE is an organization that hones medical students to be community-oriented and socially responsible, as its vision. This newest school organization in MHAM aims to provide an avenue for the members of the organization to promote personal growth and development as healthcare providers through awareness and engagement in public health practices, becoming its noble mission.
SAPHE, which stands for Student Advocates for Public Health and Environment, is an endeavor initiated and founded by student-leader from batch RESILIERE, Andrea Marie Tortugo, whose leadership skills coupled with service-oriented personality have become her driving force to walk the talk in order to create a difference in the lives of the local community.
According to 24-year old Tortugo who served in the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges-Student Network (APMC-SN) Central Visayas as Blood Donation Campaign Regional Chairman, SAPHE was officially approved by the College Dean, Dr. Ma. Soccoro Manaloto last May 31, 2018, after the latter received her letter of intent to create the organization. Right after the approval, she immediately applied to be an observer member of Asian Medical Student’s Association (AMSA) Philippines, a non-profit NGO of different organizations from various medical schools all over the country. It represents the Filipino Medical Students in two of the biggest international medical student organizations in the world: AMSA-International and International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA).
“SAPHE is an avenue to serve the community while being a medical student. We partner with organizations that serve kids with special needs, take part in events that help preserve the environment and the like. Basically, SAPHE is for serving the people and the environment. There are a lot of people who need us and we need to realize the weight of the responsibility we are taking. SAPHE gives us a glimpse of our tomorrow as future physicians. As early as now, we learn from our activities and try our best to contribute to the school and the society and be future doctors with a passion for service to the community”, Tortugo said in an interview.
Inspired by the motivational byword that once a leader, always a leader, the SAPHE founder also expressed her delight that SAPHE has been officially granted with the observer status last August 16, 2018. Hopeful, as she has always been, that before the academic year 2018-2019 ends, the new organization will become more than just an observer member with their commitment to work hard and to carry out their undertaking with the hope to touch a lot of lives as they go along.
“As an aspiring physician, I’ve always wanted to experience what it’s like to be doing medical missions and immersions to far-flung communities. I’ve also noticed that there’s no organization in our school that offers an avenue for students to reach out to the community to help or provide them an avenue to promote their advocacies. I thought of creating such organization since I was in first year but I never had the courage to do it until the MHAM Student Council sent forty delegates to the Public Health forum of Asian Medical Students Association-Service Oriented Medical Advocates (AMSA-SOMA) from CIM. The forum encouraged me to push through with my plans and be an advocate for public health. Organizations can partner with us if they have events that need manpower especially concerning public health and the environment”, she added.
Today, SAPHE takes pride of its one hundred nine (109) members under the guidance of their service-oriented adviser, Department of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology faculty, Dr. Chamberlaine Agtuca who graced the eventful General Assembly.
Long before SAPHE was formally organized, the founder also divulged that a core group was formed who played a big role when she envisioned the organization. They are Clarinda Surpia, Ina Magbanua, Smith Cabe, Carol Tobes, Khairine Cuyos, Maria Katrina Ozaraga, Therese Oquendo, Diane Vencer, Kathleya Pena, Joan Minyamin, Marjorie Lorion, Jahnelsa Logue, Marl Lanzaderas, Shedwin Escobido and Alex Salada who actively supported the notable mission to its fruition.
Bringing their mission to the neighboring communities, SAPHE participated in Everlasting Hope’s Give Back Day last July where they helped clean their center which is their second home and spent the whole afternoon doing art activities with kids who are stricken with cancer.
In addition, they also went to Rise Above Foundation, a non-profit organization in Happy Valley where they taught twenty (20) kids with proper hygiene such as hand washing and the proper way to brush their teeth. They also taught their cheerful recipients why health is wealth in a manner that children will learn to value eating healthy foods.
Because one activity to the other can never be enough, never, SAPHE joined two Medical Missions so far, one in Leyte and the other one in Bohol through AMSA-SOMA and RAFI.
With their plan to expose more members to observe and learn how to do prenatal and do immunizations, SAPHE extended their mission as they visited to Glory Reborn, a birthing center in Banawa, Cebu City. The student-advocates also participated the ‘Big Latch On’ event for all breastfeeding mothers last August 4, 2018 organized by Glory Reborn to create awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
Furthermore, they went to Little Lamb Center, a home of children with special needs and who can’t even eat on their own. Some of them were ambulatory but a number were just really inside their cribs their whole lives. They made the day with a hearty feeding activity together with their grateful young beneficiaries.
To date, SAPHE is composed with its committed officers, namely: President/founder, Andrea Marie Tortugo; VP for Programs, Events and Advocacies, Clarinda Surpia; VP for External Affairs and Partnerships, Shedwin Escobido; VP for Organizational Management, Ina Magbanua; VP for Membership and Organizational Development, William Tiu Jr.; Treasurer, Carol Tobes; Auditor, Maria Katrina Ozaraga; Business Manager, Joan Minyamin; Publicity and Documentation, Therese Oquendo; 3rd Year Representative, Khairine Cuyos; 2nd Year Representative, John Kenneth Tarongoy; and 1st Year Representative, Iza Jane Antonio.
Committees under the different VPs and the secretary position are still vacant however, they planned to fill them soon with the first year and second year members.
All through the years, MHAM is proud to have the Student Council, MHAM Caduceus Rescue Unit (CRU), MHArMony, MHAM Upbeat, MHAM Acoustics, Askleptians and MHAM Saline Options as the different school organizations that will continue to bring out their time, talents and leadership skills in the service of the humanity.
Bearing the tagline ‘We Are MHAM’ with the presence of SAPHE, the school organizations with their missions will truly bring hope in a meaningful horizon to the less-fortunate people in the neighboring communities and provinces with the future most promising.
A mission to sustain and a love to bring, SAPHE looks forward to forge linkages with government and non-government agencies in the service of the community because for these student-leaders, leadership can create little miracles with their capacity to translate their vision into reality. (Ana Liza Abao)