Project start | 1985


Free missions | 2.042


A survey of the project on Mindanao

Dates and Facts

Project begin: 1985

Number of doctors at present: 10, including a dentist

Missions: 21 voluntary missions in 2017. The doctors performed a total of 2,042 voluntary missions from 1985 to the end of 2017.

Patient contacts: more than 130,000 treatments are performed annually on Mindanao.

Partner: The German Doctors are an officially registered NGO in the Philippines. We work closely with the College of Medicine at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro (CdO).

Structure: 2 hospitals for the poor, 4 rolling clinics to provide medical care in rural areas, and training of health workers

Mission locations: rolling clinics in the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Marilog District (Davao City) and Arakan (North Cotabato), hospitals for the poor with out-patient facilities in Valencia and the remote town of Buda.

Most common health problems: colds, skin diseases, tuberculosis

Priorities: hospitals for the provision of basic medical care in Buda and Valencia; Family Health Classes to provide basic knowledge about health, hygiene, and healthy nourishment; ante-natal care for pregnant women and obstetric services; training of local health workers; basic mental and dental care for the rural population through our rolling clinics.

A survey of the project on Mindanao

Hospitals in Cagayan de Oro, Valencia & Buda

The Community Health Care Center (CHCC) in Cagayan de Oro opened in 1989. German doctors work there with their Philippine colleagues in the out-patient clinic. Even early in the morning, hundreds of people from the slums and surrounding areas are already queued to see a doctor. They cannot afford any other kind of medical care. About 200 patients are treated here every weekday, and it is from here that the Rolling Clinics set out on 10-day visits to the remote parts of Mindanao.
Until 2013 there was an additional hospital for the poor run and financed by the German Doctors with a total of 30 beds: 14 in the pediatric ward, 14 for internal medicine, and 2 in an isolation ward. This was turned over to the local partners.

In 1994, the German Doctors with support from Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) opened another infirmary for the poor in the small town of Valencia about 75 km further south. Here there are 30 beds for the seriously ill and for undernourished children, a TB ward, and an outpatient clinic. The hospital in Valencia also treats patients sent by the Rolling Clinics. About 100 patients are seen there every weekday.

The German Doctors opened a third infirmary in the small town of Buda 55 km further south in June 2006. The main target groups in this region, which is utterly lacking in medical services, are children, pregnant women and mothers from the Manobo tribe, a neglected ethnic group living in the surrounding mountain villages. The German Doctors’ main concern is to provide adequate health care, safe childbirth, and information on health matters. Many Manobos – mostly mothers with their frequently severely undernourished small children – often walk many hours to get to Buda to consult the doctor at the outpatient clinic. Severe cases can be immediately admitted for inpatient treatment.

Extensive TB treatment and family-planning programs are available in all hospitals. Health-care education is an integral part of each patient’s visit.

A survey of the project on Mindanao

Weekly classes in Cagayan de Oro

The German Doctors has been holding Mothers’ Classes in Cagayan de Oro for 20 years. Over a period of six months, women mostly from impoverished families meet each week and are trained in a fixed curriculum. The classes cover topics such as hygiene, nutrition, family planning, health care, economizing, and information about human rights – in particular women’s and children’s rights. The women are also shown ways to earn a simple living. The program was initially limited to the slum dwellers of Cagayan de Oro, but for many years now the teams of trainers have also been going out to the more remote villages. Thanks to a generous private donation from Germany, this work can now be done at the beautiful Mothers’ House in Cagayan de Oro.

More and more men in the remote villages are now voluntarily and eagerly attending these courses. The Mothers’ Classes have thereby developed into Family Health Classes over time. This is a huge step forward in the direction of family planning.

A survey of the project on Mindanao

Mobile outpatient clinic in remote areas

Ever since beginning its work on Mindanao, the German Doctors has run Rolling Clinics to serve the rural areas in the mountainous interior that are otherwise without medical services. Every Monday teams consisting of a German doctor, a driver, an interpreter, and an assistant pharmacist set off to visit the inhabitants in remote villages according to a fixed schedule. The journey in a jeep packed full of equipment and medicine often takes them along adventurous routes. Streams which can turn into raging torrents in heavy rain frequently have to be crossed. Sometimes a water buffalo has to pull the vehicle out of the mud, or the team has to continue on foot.

When the team arrives at a village, there are usually already lots of people waiting for the German doctors. The treatment tables are quickly put up and the pharmacy prepared. In the meantime, one of the Philippine members of staff gives the waiting patients a lesson on subjects such as hygiene, nutrition, and dental care. The whole team usually spends the nights in the simple dwellings of the village inhabitants during their 10-day trips.

There is also always a German dentist on one of these tours. The dentist simply uses an ordinary chair out of doors to have enough light. The bravest villagers are sent up to the front of the queue, and everybody watches closely to see whether the new German doctor extracts teeth carefully enough. Once the dentist has “passed the test”, the queue quickly gets longer with more patients wanting to be rid of their toothaches.

A survey of the project on Mindanao

Needy Peasants and Manobos

On Mindanao, the peasants in the remote villages of the mountainous interior live in very humble conditions. State programs do not reach them, and the next health centre is a long way away. Even if they manage the long walk to the main road, they often simply do not have the money to pay for the bus journey to the next provincial town, after which there would be nothing left over for treatment and medicines, anyway.

With its network of Rolling Clinics and the possibility of admitting undernourished children and seriously ill patients to its own infirmaries, the German Doctors ensures that these people are at least given medical assistance in their fight for survival. By holding regular patients’ classes and training hundreds of local health workers, the hygiene and the general state of health have improved considerably in lots of places. At the meeting that concludes every 10-day Rolling Clinic, the particular problems encountered at individual locations are discussed, like dried up wells. The German Doctors together and local staff members then try and work out what can be done in each case.

The teams of German Doctors especially visit villages In Bukidnon Province which are inhabited by the native Manobos, who are still discriminated against on the Philippines. These regular visits show them and other Philippinos that they are also entitled to basic medical care. We therefore regularly take well-educated medical students from the university in Cagayan de Oro with us to accompany us on our tours. These upcoming doctors thus get a glimpse of social reality in their own country and will, hopefully, be likewise committed to helping the poorer part of its population in the future.

German Doctors help worldwide

We believe in the right of every human being to get medical care no matter their origin. Therefore our volunteer German Doctors offer medical treatments in developing countries for the poorest of the poor. Whether people infected with HIV, undernourished children deficiency syndromes or people with chronic diseases, we help everyone who needs help.

Our doctors work during their annual leave or retirement for a period of six weeks and waive any compensation. More than 7000 missions with more than 3200 doctors were completed since 1983.