The local government of Paranaque led by Mayor Edwin Olivarez and pharmaceutical company A. Menarini Philippines have partnered to offer city residents a free Hepatitis B screening program.
This comprehensive program will address the inadequacies of previous screening programs since it will include the importance of linkage to care by providing those with chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection access to antiviral medications as well as give proper education and information.
This endeavor, which is endorsed by the Hepatology Society of the Philippines and the Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines, aims to help the citizens of Paranaque raise awareness on the disease, identify and treat patients with HBV and avoid its transmission.
A forum was held last November 25 to discuss proper screening, diagnosis, treatment, and patient management as part of providing continuing medical education to local healthcare professionals.
Dr. Roberto De Guzman from the Hepatology Society of the Philippines provided a lay lecture on Hepatitis B, followed by a patient testimonial from Patrick Saburit, President of Yellow Warriors Society Philippines, aiming to provide better understanding of their fight against the disease.
Through the program, the proponents encouraged the public to take part in the advocacy by being proactive in combating the disease through testing and screening as a preventive measure especially in a country with high prevalence of Hepatitis B like the Philippines.
With the program providing more accessible Hepatitis B services at the primary level for early diagnosis and treatment, Paranaque residents are encouraged to schedule regular visits every six months (or at least every year) with local health care provider who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B so they can monitor the health of liver through blood tests or diagnostic imaging.
The advocacy is guided by the belief that if we do not find and treat the undiagnosed, more people will suffer, and lives will continue to be lost.
This multi-stakeholder activity is in support of the World Health Organization’s call to reduce new infections and deaths from chronic Hepatitis B by making screenings accessible to the public.
At present, there are approximately 300 million people living with viral hepatitis worldwide. In the Philippines, Hepatitis B is said to be the leading cause of liver damage resulting in liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Studies show that in the Philippines there is a hepatitis B carrier rate of around 9-16 percent. This means that out of 10 people, at least one is a carrier of Hepatitis B.
Looking for the missing millions is a difficult process and instituting an adequate Hepatitis B screening program is important in narrowing the gap between timely HBV treatment and development of complications.
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