Awareness and screening as first step in combating Hepatitis B

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    Hepatitis B is a huge public health concern in the Philippines, but due to lack of awareness, many of those who have this viral disease may not even know they have it until it’s too late. The good news is that Hepatitis B is preventable and treatable. There is a simple blood test to diagnose a Hepatitis B infection. Testing is the only way to know for sure if one are infected.

    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.

    A forum was held 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 Hepatits B which was 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,

    The local government of Paranaque led by Mayor Edwin Olivarez and pharmaceutical company A. Menarini Philippines have partnered to offer the residents of Paranaque 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 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.

    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 a local health care provider who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B so they can monitor the health of liver through blood tests or diagnostic imaging.