Philippine Daily Inquirer (12.02.2013)
Aids Weekly Plus
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) convened a multisectoral coalition of stakeholders to form the National Viral Hepatitis Task Force (NVHTF). The task force included the Department of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, the Philippine College of Physicians, Philhealth, the Philippine Pediatric Society, the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, the Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines, and the Department of Labor and Employment. At present, the Philippines did not have a comprehensive plan for hepatitis B and C prevention; NVHTF’s goal was to “develop and maintain a national strategy to eliminate or significantly decrease” hepatitis B and C prevalence in the Philippines.
NVHTF already has outlined a strategic plan, “Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the Philippines: A Call to Action,” to guide the development of a comprehensive plan. The NVHTF plan aligned with WHO Global Hepatitis Program recommendations for addressing hepatitis along four axes: raising awareness, promoting partnerships, and mobilizing resources; centering action on evidence-based policy and data; preventing transmission; and providing screening, care, and treatment. In 2010, WHO passed a resolution urging all member nations to adopt a comprehensive approach to hepatitis control and prevention.
Studies have estimated that 16.7 percent (7.3 million) of Filipinos had chronic hepatitis B and approximately 1 percent of Filipinos could have hepatitis C. Hepatitis prevalence was twice as high in the Philippines as in other Western Pacific countries. Long-term consequences of chronic hepatitis infection could include liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to HSP President Dr. Diana Payawal, liver cancer was the third leading cancer cause and the second leading cause of cancer death in the Philippines.