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‘Yellow Manifesto’ targets increased awareness on Hepatitis B

THE YELLOW Manifesto was signed during the country’s celebration of World Hepatitis Day.

More cause-oriented and industry groups, supported by pharmaceutical companies and government agencies, are now taking to heart the battle against the costly and deadly Hepatitis B.

The Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines (YWSP), together with representatives from the government and private business sector, recently signed a “Yellow Manifesto” that targets to increase awareness on Hepatitis B.

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The manifesto, according to the group, is likewise aimed at imparting “education on healthy lifestyle practices and stricter medical procedures to prevent contamination, provide better access to hepatitis treatment and implement and monitor labor laws for the protection of hepatitis patients and non-HBV (non-Hepatitis B virus) workers in the workplace.”

Serious situation

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“Hepatitis B remains to be a serious situation that needs to be addressed. And since the Philippines is a tropical country, Filipino noncarriers are continuously at high risk of contracting and spreading the disease,” YWSP explained.

Described by the World Health Organization as a potentially life-threatening liver infection, Hepatitis B continues to affect more than 2 billion people worldwide, causing the deaths of an estimated 600,000 each year.

Hepatitis B, which can be transmitted among people by contact with blood or other body fluids, is actually preventable through vaccines. When left untreated, it may lead to chronic liver diseases and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

This is why it is crucial to spread awareness and education about the symptoms of Hepatitis B, its modes of transmission and most importantly, methods of preventive control such as testing, vaccination and healthier lifestyle practices.

“We envision the YWSP to be the primary collective and support group for Filipino hepatitis patients. By organizing the patients, it will be easier to get their concerns and address them, majority of which tackle on employment issues, high cost of medicines and discrimination,” said Pamela Chan, public relations officer of YWSP.

PEP program

THE YELLOW Warriors Society of the Philippines, together with representatives from the government and private business sector, aims to increase awareness and educate the people about Hepatitis B.

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Supporting YWSP in this cause is pharmaceutical firm MSD Philippines, which also launched last month its Patient Education and Persistence (PEP) program.

Through PEP, MSD wanted to show that it “embraces the principle of the government in providing universal healthcare,” said Mike Blanch, business unit director at MSD.

Under this program, MSD has committed to provide a 50-percent reduction in the cost of the Hepatitis B therapy, which may require 24 to 48 weeks of treatment period. Nurses will also be provided to each patient throughout the whole period free of cost.

“These nurses visit the patients, help them demonstrate the use of our redipen device, teach them how to inject the medicine themselves and make patients aware of what to expect during treatment and how to deal with them,” Blanch explained.

On top of this, Blanch also disclosed that the company would be providing free ribavirin for Hepatitis C patients. The PEP Program would further provide free HCV-RNA and HBV-DNA test to properly monitor the patients’ response to therapy. In a year’s therapy, patients normally get four to six of these expensive tests, he added.

“It is our goal to make each patient’s treatment journey as bump-free as possible. We make sure that aside from their doctors and their loved ones, patients have real persons whom they can gain strength from and get support from,” Blanch concluded.

Recently, President Aquino III signed into law Republic Act 10152 or also known as the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011, which mandates the basic immunization of all infants and children with vaccine-preventable diseases such as Hepatitis B.

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