Israel, San Juan, Makati Med unite vs cancer


SEVENTY women-beneficiaries were provided with free PAP Smear, breast exam, and consultation in celebration of Women’s Month in San Juan City on Monday.

This was made possible with the collaboration among the Embassy of Israel headed by Ambassador Ilan Fluss, through Mashav, the Israeli agency for international development cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, with Makati Medical Center Foundation and Operation Blessing, as they launched the ISHA Project.

Zamora said that those who will test positive for cancer will be jointly helped by the Makati Medical Center Foundation and Operation Blessing in seeking treatment.

“Mr. Ambassador, we are very thankful that you’ve chosen the city of San Juan to be the venue of this wonderful project,” Zamora said as he recalled that his wife Keri was diagnosed a few years ago with stage 3 breast cancer.

“It was the hardest point in our lives. But through God’s grace, prayers, and faith, she’s strong and healthy. So every time there is a program for breast cancer, it is close to our hearts. We have experienced how hard it is to battle cancer. That’s why we’re thankful that there are people like Amb. Fluss, Marge (Barro, of MakatiMed Foundation), and John (Howe of Operation Blessing) to help us in our program for women,” the mayor added.

The Executive Director of Makati Medical Center Foundation, Barro, also addressed the audience and said, “On behalf of our board of trustees, we would like to thank Mayor Zamora, Amb. Ilan Fluss, and Operation Blessing for this opportunity to be able to serve the City of San Juan. We are looking forward to working with you towards securing the health security of the City of San Juan. Sa lahat ng kababaihan [To ll women] this morning, we celebrate you!”

The ISHA Project was coined after “Isha” which means “woman” in Hebrew. It aims to serve as an efficient and effective tool for responding to the health and wellness needs of Filipinas with limited access to health services, particularly tests that help detect cervical and breast cancer.

Amb. Fluss shared the rich historical relationship between the Philippines and Israel, starting in 1938 when President Manuel L. Quezon allowed 1,300 Jewish refugees to seek asylum in the Philippines after fleeing the Nazis.

In 1947, the Philippines was also a critical vote in the United Nations in the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel as the homeland for the Jews. The Philippines was the only country in Asia who supported the move.

“For these two important gestures, Israel feels responsible to pay back to the Philippines in cases of humanitarian disasters and in cases of needs, Israel would be here to work and assist the Philippines,” said Fluss.

“We hope that this is an opportunity to further our progression and collaboration for the future. Mayor Zamora and members of the council, the employees, this is our opportunity to renew our
commitment with you in San Juan in embracing the path towards gender equity, inclusivity and health. I hope we can work in many more projects, both in women and girls,” he added.

Operation Blessing also distributed medicines and vitamins to the women while Makati Medical Center Foundation and the Embassy of Israel provided them with loot bags.

“It’s an honor today to be here with you. Of course it’s Women’s Month, and [for] the initiatives that are helping women through this project, we thank and congratulate everyone who is involved in this,” said Howe.

Several healthcare workers from Makati Medical Center and San Juan Medical Center volunteered to provide free services to the women-beneficiaries while Operation Blessing brought their mobile clinic to San Juan City Hall. 

Image credits: Nonoy Lacza