A theatre nurse from south London has described a charity mission to the Philippines as a “real eye opener”.
Ellen Paniamogan was part of a team of 13 volunteers in a medical mission to the City of Tacloban Layte in the Philippines. During their eight days there, the team successfully treated more than 40 children born with cleft lips and palates.
Medical Missions for Children, the charity behind the trip, work around the globe to deliver medical expertise in locations that may not normally have access to UK standards of treatment or surgery.
Ms Paniamogan normally works as a theatre nurse at The Blackheath Hospital, which is run by private company BMI and who sponsored the trip.
Ms Paniamogan said: “Having being born and trained in the Philippines this was an amazing opportunity for me to return to my home country and make a massive difference to the lives of some of the poorest residents in the country.”
But she added: “After a near-miss crash landing on our arrival, we quickly discovered that the local state hospital was not equipped to the high standards we are used to in the UK.
“Being able to speak native Filipino I learnt that the parents of the children had the same worries, fears and concerns as parents here in the UK.”
Every year MMFC sends 15 to 20 surgical and dental missions to countries such as China, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ukraine.
Each one-to-two week mission consists of five to 30 surgical and dental volunteers and costs an average of £28,000. The teams are self-contained and set up operating rooms, recovery areas and dental suites, carrying all necessary supplies, equipment and medications with them.
Ms Paniamogan said: “The experience was a real eye opener for me.”