Helping Where Needed: SMI Extends Healthcare to Remote Project Areas
Tampakan, South Cotabato - Delivering health services to sitios in Barangay Datalblao in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, poses a challenge for barangay health worker Jovelyn Marquez since these settlements are far from the barangay center and the roads are difficult to navigate, especially during the rainy season.
Fortunately, Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) has been assisting the barangay local government with medical outreach initiatives, making it much simpler for the LGU to reach those in desperate need of medical assistance.
SMI is the Government’s partner for the exploration, development and utilization of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world. SMI is the holder of a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the National Government that was granted in 1995.
In 2023 alone, SMI spent PhP10 million on its different Health and Medical Mission Programs, which served 74,922 people, the majority of whom were Blaan indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). These activities included medical and dental missions, medical consultations, family planning, and the distribution of medicines and vitamins.
"Our health services to sitio residents have improved because of SMI's assistance to the barangay council and the municipal government," said Marquez, who has been serving her community as a barangay health worker for over 20 years.
"Prior to the outreach programs, cases of teenage pregnancy, pregnancy without prenatal services, and maternal deaths were high."
In another host municipality, Mayor Jojo Calma of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, also praised SMI's ongoing efforts to assist his constituents in isolated and disadvantaged communities, particularly through free health care, access to education, infrastructure development, livelihood opportunities, capacity building programs, and the protection of socio-cultural values.
For her part, Mayor Maria Theresa Constantino of Malungon, Sarangani, thanked the mining firm for assisting her municipal government in advancing socioeconomic development and raising her community's living standards.
In addition to providing free medical services, SMI has supplied brand new vehicles to the host Blaan ICCs in Kiblawan and two other ICCs in Malungon, for use in emergency relief and disaster response activities.
For more than a decade, SMI has collaborated with the municipal governments within the Tampakan Project area to improve the lives of the community through humanitarian projects, environmental protection activities, and efficient delivery of basic nutrition and related services, thereby improving the barangay's nutrition situation.
The Malungon municipal government has been named a Hall of Famer by the National Nutrition Council for its outstanding efforts to reduce malnutrition-related risks.
"Sagittarius Mines, Inc. thank you for our partnership. Sa lahat ng ibinigay niyong tulong, mula sa bigas, gatas, lahat ng tulong ninyo sa pagtaguyod sa kalusugan ng aming mga kabataan, apart from our programs in education and ZOD (Zero Open Defecation) programs. Maraming, maraming salamat, SMI!", the mayor said.
Even though the Tampakan Project has yet to begin, SMI has already invested more than PhP1.2 billion in various social development projects and activities aimed at promoting the general welfare and improving the socioeconomic, health, and educational conditions of its ten hosts and eleven neighboring communities. (30)