Thursday, February 16, 2017

Philippines Health Forum: Access to Innovative Medicine, Focus on Cancer

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The entire process that a cancer patient goes through is so stressful for both the patient and their loved ones. The thought of keeping the will to survive amidst the hardship from physical, financial and emotional burdens is a terrible situation to be in. I would find myself always hoping for a miracle if science could not speed up its search for a cure to the most dreaded cancer.

I would like to believe that there have been many efforts done and currently ongoing with the goal to ease the treatment process for cancer patients. I’ve encountered so many campaigns, corporate social responsibility programs and initiatives, both big and small, that all aim to raise awareness, and somehow alleviate the pain experienced by a victim.

There have also been so many initiatives done to make the treatment process more convenient, if not affordable, for so many who have been struggling from the disease from the time of discovery up to the point of hoping for a cure, or at least to prolong their life.

But have most of these noble efforts been repetitious or redundant? Since there is no central point to acknowledge each effort, we see many organizations or groups, whether government, private or non-government organizations or groups, doing the same tasks.

Thus, I believe it is about time we gather these stakeholders to come up with a more focused group where all concerned groups and individuals could contribute to the overall success of an effort that is organized and with focus.

The Philippines Health Forum: Access to Innovative Medicine, Focus on Cancer event was organized by Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc. and was held on February 8, 2017 at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati city. This is where diverse minds have gathered together to discuss and address gaps, and discover partnership opportunities related to the access to innovative cancer medicines.

The aim is to successfully battle cancer through collaborative effort among the different stakeholders like physicians, the government, NGO’s and the industry, to discuss the needs of Filipino Cancer patients and to address pertinent issues like access to innovative medicines.

The Press Conference Panelists consisted of Gabriel Georgy, President and General Manager ofTakeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.; Dr. Sandra Torres, Medical Director of Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.; Isabel Torres, Global Head of Access to Medicines of Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Gordon Cameron, Vice President of Asia-Pacific of Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Robert Jackson, VP of Global Medical Head-CVM; Dr. Claire Soliman, Past Vice President of Philippine Society of Media Oncology and Lani Eusebio, Executive Director of ICanServeFoundation Inc., and a cancer patient as well.

From the press conference, we should salute Takeda for their efforts to alleviate the process a cancer patient goes through by subsidizing some of the treatments specifically on the laboratory testing requiring medical equipment that currently only one hospital has. It surprised me that onlya private hospital like St. Lukes medical Center hospital at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig has a very expensive equipment that would be very useful for many cancer patients. With so many controversial misuse of millions to billions of our taxes by many government officials, it is quite painful to find out that we could not even provide the necessary equipment at our hospitals.

Access to innovative medicines and quality healthcare is vital to the health of people across the world. Takeda’s new Access to Medicines strategy will allow eligible patients in evolving healthcare systems to have access to innovative and potentially life-saving medicines, even if their ability to pay for the full cost of treatment is limited. This is aligned to their existing commitment to enhance global health.

Takeda’s Access to Medicines strategy also goes beyond medicines by encompassing efforts in areas such as Research & Development, philanthropy, donations and healthcare capacity building. Takeda aspires to achieve the greatest possible health impact for patients in a sustainable way in parts of the world with high, unmet medical needs.

The Philippines Health Forum tried to identify, target, and develop solutions for the issues and barriers to access to innovative cancer medicine in the Philippines. A diverse set of experts discussed topics like Access to Medicine initiatives, sustainable development goals in health, and the status of cancer care in the Philippines. Also discussed was ways to provide for the needs on manpower resources, information and research, healthcare financing, the role of the pharmaceutical industry, and infrastructure challenges, related to access to innovative cancer medicine.

But the effort shouldn’t start and end at the forum. We hope that all the stakeholders will continue working together to build and collaborate on the ideas expressed in the forum to help address the health gaps raised.

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