Dr. Fortunato L. Cristobal, Dean of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine (ADZU-SOM), was awarded a “Special Award for Excellence in Health Professional Education” during the international Prince Mahidol Award Conference held last January 26-31, in Pattaya, Thailand. This award is given in honor of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkla, Thailand. The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation was established on January 1st, 1992 in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol. Two Prince Mahidol awards are conferred annually upon individuals or institutions which have demonstrated outstanding and exemplary contributions to the advancement of medicine, public health and human services throughout the world.
This year however for the first time, 7 Prince Mahidol awardees were selected from 32 nominees worldwide. The final 7 awardees came from USA, Canada, Sudan, Belgium, Beijing, South Africa with Dr. F. Cristobal from the Philippines.
Dr. Cristobal received this award for his establishment of the ADZU-SOM and its innovative curriculum utilizing problem-based learning, community-based learning, and competency-based assessment. This pioneering school opened twenty years ago, long before The Lancet published the study “Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world”. This study underlined the pressing need of a competency based curriculum integrating education systems with health systems on local, national, regional, and global levels.
The ADZU-SOM has been instrumental in dramatically decreasing the morbidity and mortality rates of the region, and in improving access to health services. Its graduates have been deployed to previously doctorless areas in Mindanao, and have been contributory to the increase in the health literacy of the region.
With Dr. Cristobal were two of ADZU-SOM’s graduates, Dr. Pascualito Concepcion, and Dr. Caroline C. Fabian. Dr. Fabian presented findings from her Team’s community health plans entitled “Community Mobilization Through Experiential Learning: The ADZU-SOM Experience,” detailing the creation of sustainable health projects in the rural community of San Miguel, Mutia, Zamboanga del Norte.
This year’s Prince Mahidol Conference on “Transformative Learning for Health Equity,” was organized in cooperation with the World Health Organization, World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, China Medical Board, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
As the Philippines struggles to address the still ubiquitous problem of health inaccessibility, Dr. Cristobal and the ADZU-SOM continuously employ transformative ideas to champion health for all.