October 4, 2023

A pharmacy and clinic patterned after the “community pantry” that became popular at the height of the lockdown last year has opened in the central business district of Baguio.
Operated by Chooselife Pharmacy and Clinic, the facility is the mental health clinic in charge at the Baguio City Health Services Office.
“Chooselife Pharmacy and Clinic aims to give free medications para sa mga tao na nag-gagamot for neurologic and mental conditions,” said Chooselife founder Ricky Ducas.
Fashioned after community pantries, the pharmacy offers free medicines that have been donated and are listed on the advocacy group’s social media page.
“I call it a community pharmacy and clinic. For example, sa mga bahay natin may mga gamot na hindi natin nagagamit, or may mga gamot na hindi na natin kailangan at hindi naman expired at okay naman ang condition, they can deposit it sa pharmacy and the pharmacy will post on Facebook and people with low income may get it for free,” he said.
Ducas said people can get any amount of medicines provided they shell out P10 storage fee, which is also used to provide free health and medical services to the public.
Ducas said Chooselife also has partners who offer psychiatric services at discounted rates.
“We want to tell the public that it is not expensive to seek medical help for mental health problems. Ayaw sana namin na magkaroon ng stigma na ang mental health consultation ay mahal. Mayroong mga doctor who are supporting our advocacy,” Ducas said.
Aside from the clinic and the pharmacy, Chooselife also monitors uric acid, blood sugar, and blood pressure every weekend for free in front of the pharmacy located below the Baguio City Hall compound.
Before converting it into a community pharmacy, the clinic opened in 2021 to make services for those with mental health issues more accessible and offer cheaper medicines.
Ducas said the city recorded around 30 suicide cases each in 2020 and 2021.
Ducas, a registered nurse with a doctorate degree in Nursing and handles the mental health advocacy clinic of the city government, said they receive about five calls a day and about 20 messages from different individuals seeking help.
He said their records show most of those who suffered and continue to suffer from mental health problems belong to the young working-age bracket of 23 to 33 years old, and as young as 15 years old. – PNA