27 July 2011
Pia supports campaign vs Hepa-B
Senator Pia S. Cayetano today threw her full support behind efforts to raise awareness and take action on Hepatitis B, a deadly viral disease of the liver that currently stalks about 16 million Filipinos, even as countries around the globe mark Thursday, July 28, as ‘World Hepatitis Day.’
“Hepatitis B is an urgent public health concern as it affects one in about every six Filipinos. On the other hand, Hepatitis C is an emerging threat that many of us are unaware of. It is unfortunate that Hepatitis cases remain underreported due to lack of information about its cause, risks, symptoms and implications,” said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
Cayetano lauded the initiative of the Yellow Warriors Society Philippines (YWSP), a national organization of Hepatitis patients and advocates, to bring together various stakeholders to sign the ‘Yellow Manifesto’ on Wednesday at the Diamond Hotel in Manila. The said manifesto is a statement of support calling for multi-sectoral efforts to address the disease.
She also thanked the Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP), the Occupational Health and Safety Center of DOLE (DOLE-OHSC), the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) for taking part in the launch and agreeing to sign the Yellow Manifesto.
“It is crucial for various stakeholders, including government, the private sector, and Hepatitis patients and advocates, to act as one against the disease and spurring fellow Filipinos to care and to take action,” she stressed.
Since being elected to the Senate in 2004, Cayetano has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to address Hepatitis B which she describes as a ‘silent killer.’ Her father, the late Senator ‘Companero’ Rene Cayetano, died in 2003 following a long struggle with liver cancer, one of the dreaded complications of Hepa B.
Cayetano’s most recent contributions include the enactment of Republic Act 10152, or the ‘Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act of 2011.’ The law expands the national immunization program by mandating that all infants be given the birth dose of the Hepatitis-B vaccine within 24 hours from birth.
In the last Congress, she spearheaded a series of hearings and consultation meetings which allowed government agencies to sit down with employers’ groups, patients and medical experts to discuss together and draft official policy seeking to end the discrimination of people with Hepatitis B in workplace.
The meetings resulted in the crafting of DOLE Advisory No.5, series of 2010, which guides employers and workers in the formulation of a workplace policy and program on Hepatitis B.
“Lack of awareness has led to the discrimination of people with Hepa-B. Some employers require Hepatitis screening to identify and separate Hepa-B positive applicants. This unfairly denies them of the right to gainful employment, even if medical studies prove that these workers pose no risks of infecting co-workers under most types of work environments and industries. Persons with Hepatitis B can be as hardworking and productive as anyone else, and they should be welcomed into society.” she stressed.
Photo: Indigent children get free anti hepa-b shots courtesy of Sen Pia Cayetano’s Pinay In Action immunization program.