Doctor returns to serve island in time of need

GIVING BACK: Dr. Edison Manaloto is a 2003 graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, and a member of the University of Guam Class of 2006. Manaloto received his medical training and degree from De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute in the Philippines, and is now an internist at the Guam Regional Medical City hospital. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

At the age of 5, Edison Manaloto - now Dr. Manaloto - moved to Guam from the Philippines with his family and found opportunity in the public school system to gain an education that led to his earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree at the University of Guam where he graduated as valedictorian in 2006.

“During my 20s I was trying to find my place in the world and how I could be of the best service to the island and decided to go to medical school,” he said.

After working in finance for a time on island, he completed medical school at De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute in the Philippines. While awaiting residency he briefly worked at the University of Guam as an assistant professor of public administration.

“It’s quite amazing how the university has grown and provided opportunities and I think that is a testament of the investment of the community in the university,” he said.

After completing his residency at the University of Hawaii Internal Medicine residency program in July, Manaloto - in the midst of a global pandemic- returned to the island to give back.

“Knowing how fragile the health system was it was also coming back at a time the island really needs you,” he said.

Now a hospitalist - basically an internal medicine physician who works in a hospital - at Guam Regional Medical City, he can see firsthand the challenges Guam is facing as the virus continues to spread, he said.

“I don’t think the virus’s effect is equal. Unfortunately this virus, throughout the world, will affect minority communities to a greater extent,” Manaloto said. ”There are many inequities, unfortunately in health care. There are many barriers to minority communities besides just financial resources, it’s the lack of access to health insurance, it’s the lack of access to primary care services, so this all factors into what we already know. The virus did not create these disparities but it will surely highlight and expose these inequities and these vulnerabilities in our community.”

How Guam confronts the virus will depend on how we are best able to help the neediest in our community, he said.

“During this time of the virus I always say we have to be our brother’s keeper,” Manaloto said. ” We need doctors here. We are an underserved area. We have limited resources but I think eventually we will get through this virus and I think part of it is our resiliency as a people.”

Manaloto shared some advice for the young people on Guam who may, like he did, want to go big and go home.

“You are as good as anybody else. You are globally competitive. Dream big and keep dreaming,” he said.

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