July 30, 2011

Yellow Warriors Signed the Yellow Manifesto

My mom never allowed me to buy streetfood. No to barbeques, to iced cold sago't gulaman, or fishballs. She says I might get Hepatitis. I feel envious whenever I see my classmates who would flock around a vendor buying fishballs, scramble (that pink drink with Brown Cow), and other streetfood. We are not from the high society, but my mom is just too careful and I am glad she is because diseases are fatal, and not alot of people are aware.

I was invited to an event last Wednesday in Diamond Hotel but I just had to decline because of bad weather and schedule conflict. My PR contact is kind enough to share with me the information so I am publishing this for everyone's awareness.

For the Philippine celebration of the World Health Organization’s global World Hepatitis Day on July 28, a multi-sectoral alliance of government, private business sector, and individuals was formed in support of the Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines (YWSP)—a national organization of hepatitis patients and advocates to fight hepatitis in the country.

Hepatitis comes in many forms and can affect anyone, anywhere. According to WHO, one out of three people in the world has been infected with the disease and one out of 12 remains chronically infected which often results in long-term health problems such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Beyond the burden of disease, hepatitis patients also experience loss of employment, discrimination, and stigmatization.

“We envision the Yellow Warriors Society Philippines to be the primary collective and support group for Filipino hepatitis patients,” states Pamela Chan, public relations officer of YWSP. “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. We aim to assist the medical practitioners in providing the patients with
the latest medical information and support, specifically emotional support for those who have just recently discovered they are carriers of the virus.”

Among the organization’s primary objectives is to urge global pharmaceutical companies to provide better hepatitis treatment options at more affordable costs. In the long-term, it seeks to form effective partnerships with the government in institutionalizing measures for the welfare of both hepatitis patients and healthy  individuals in the country by pushing for HbsAg screening to be part of routine medical check up, provide medical subsidies for needy patients, and enjoining non-HBV carriers to get the vaccine.

On the business front, non-discrimination against hepatitis carriers in the workplace needs to be constantly implemented and monitored. In 2010, the Department of Labor and Employment has in fact issued Advisory Number 5 which contains guidelines on the implementation of a workplace policy to fight discrimination against workers or applicants infected with Hepatitis B. It also encourages firms to have a vaccination
program for those at risk for infection such as health care workers and others who may be exposed to body fluids in the performance of their jobs.

Recently, President Aquino signed into law RA 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.

Thus, in celebration of World Hepatitis Day, the Yellow Warriors Society Philippines will bring together representatives from the medical society, the Hepatology Society of the Philippines, private business sectors (Employers Confederation of the Philippines and People Management Association of the Philippines), global pharmaceutical company MSD, and government agencies such as the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Employment.

Although hepatitis is among the most prevalent, serious infectious diseases in the world, a lot of people are not aware of it. It is important to note that hepatitis can be prevented, treated, and sometimes, even cured. Signing the Yellow Manifesto, it is the alliance’s goal to increase awareness on the disease, impart 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 workers in the workplace. The alliance not only hopes to fight hepatitis in the Philippines but moreso, to fight discrimination and stigma against those already afflicted with the disease.

The Yellow Warriors are not the newest sports team, but I like the name. Too bad, I was not there to witness the signing, or maybe even sign the Yellow Manifesto too. It is interesting to know about these things. Is this something that you have known all along? Please share the love.