January as liver cancer awareness month

Sponsorship Speech on Senate Bill No.3224
Committee Report No.312

Declaring January of every year as
“Liver Cancer and Viral Hepatitis Awareness and Prevention Month”

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
October 8, 2012

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues,

On behalf of the Committee on Health and Demography, I stand before you to sponsor Senate Bill 3224, which declares the month of January of every year as “Liver Cancer and Viral Hepatitis Awareness and Prevention Month.” This bill aims to raise public awareness and improve education about liver cancer and viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis-B is an infectious disease and a serious public health issue in the Philippines. The country office of the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that sixty percent of the population have been infected with the Hepatitis-B virus or HBV, while an estimated 10 percent of Filipinos are virus carriers.[1] This means that there are approximately eight to ten million Hepatitis-B carriers who can transmit the disease to more people.

Thus, it is imperative for the public to be aware, and informed of, the ways to prevent and control the disease. HBV may be transmitted through blood, shared needles, or sexual intercourse, but the primary route of infection is from a pregnant virus carrier to her newborn child.

HBV is a “silent infection” that is already hyperendemic in the country.[2] The illness scarcely manifests symptoms, and usually becomes evident only in adulthood during which most deaths occur. Further, Hepatitis-B is also the cause of around seventy percent of liver cancer occurrence. Liver cancer ranks 2nd among males and 7th among females as the leading site of cancer.

It is for these reasons that a comprehensive public education and awareness program on liver cancer and viral hepatitis is necessary. Filipinos must be well-equipped with information to prevent and manage this illness, such as routine infant immunization and child and adult vaccination, in order to fight for better health, especially for the youngest and most fragile of our population.

I thus seek the immediate approval of this bill. Thank you very much!

[1] http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/health-a-fitness/32199-hepatitis-b-deadlier-than-ever
[2] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/26363/16-million-filipinos-are-carriers-of-hepatitis-b

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