Mimaropa's First Sea Ambulance Caters to Calamian Group of Islands in Palawan


One of the essential addition to the Department of Health’s medical and health service delivery in MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) is the sea ambulance donated to the Department of Health - Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (DOH-CGSH) and funded by the Sasakawa Memorial Medical Health Foundation and the Association of Professional Motor Boat Racers of Japan.




It was through the determination of Dr. Cunanan that the sea ambulance materialized. In 2009, after being appointed as the new Chief of CSGH, one of his first endeavor was to bring the hospital’s medical and health services closer to the people of the four municipalities of Calamaian namely Culion, Coron, Busuanga, Linapacan as well as to the neighboring island municipalities of Northern Palawan such as El Nido, Cuyo, Dumaran, Agutaya and Taytay.


The feat seemed to be difficult considering the geographical location and topography of the province and most of these areas lack access to road networks and sea transport is the quickest and only means of delivering a patient to CSGH. Taking into consideration that weather conditions and availability of transport are also to consider as it can endanger the lives and health teams seeking and providing the needed medical interventions.


In November of 2013, Typhoon Yolanda came to ravage the island of Culion leaving it isolated and depressed. Sea transportations were wrecked and communications were inoperative. Many residents were affected and in need of medical assistance. These challenges only made Dr. Cunanan’s resolve to acquire a sea ambulance that will immediately transport those in need of emergency medical assistance, in the surrounding islands.


Through his relentless determination, he sought funding support from Prof. Etsuko Kita, Chairperson of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation (SMHF)  and  Mr. Kazunori Johtaki, President of the Association of Professional Motor Boat Racers of Japan, the SEA AMBULANCE was made possible.


And on August 3, 2016, it was formally turned-over to DOH-CSGH at the Antonio T. Mabera Covered Court in Culion, Palawan. The event was attended by DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, CSGH Hospital Chief Dr. Arturo C. Cunanan, Jr., and the executives and representatives of Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, Association of Professional Motorboat Racer of Japan, and the Nippon Foundation and Japan Leisure Channel.




The vessel is outfitted with the necessary basic life support equipment such as oxygen, resuscitator, defibrillator and immobilization devices so that person with serious injuries can be first stabilized and transported faster to a hospital.


It is powered by a Mitsubishi 6D16 engine, and equipped with radar, GPS, depth finder, pilot control shifter, radio, siren and emergency lights.


According to Dr. Cunanan, the sea ambulance will be manned by one emergency doctor, one emergency nurse, two health attendants and two boat personnel. “It will be managed and maintained by the CSGH”, he emphasized.


The CSGH is the only DOH-retained secondary level general hospital operating in the Calamianes Group of Islands that provides surgical, obstetrics and medical needs of its catchment population and attend to emergencies, disaster and rescue operations providing access to CSGH specialists and hospital care while maintaining its mandate as a sanitarium and a leprosy training and research center in region.





“We can now lessen impediments in health care delivery due to geographical location and this is the only means to immediately deliver patients from distant island areas to CSGH in need of medical care,” DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo stated during the turn-over ceremony.


“For many years, the residents of these islands have been in need of access to health care services. And this sea ambulance is the answer and the fast way to deliver and to transport patients to CSGH. It can also provide an effective rescue vessel and can act as a temporary sea clinic that can provide immediate medical care to victims in need of emergency care,” Janairo emphasized.





Dr. Arturo C. Cunanan, Jr, is the present Hospital Chief of Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH). A native of the island Culion and a direct descendant of leprosy patients of the island. He earned his medical and public health degree at the University of the Philippines. His dedication and devotion to Culion brought him back to better serve the island’s residents and provide treatment to new leprosy patients.


He was instrumental in the development and construction of the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archives inside the compound of CSGH.



Republic of the Philippines  |  Department of Health

Culion, Palawan