Sunday, November 17, 2013

360 Degrees Protection: POGS Immunization for Filipino Women and fight against Cervical Cancer

Sickness and disease come unexpectedly. Nowadays, it is but practical to prioritize overall great health over simply acquiring a beach-ready-body. Women's health is a top priority especially with mothers--because it is she who takes good care of her entire family. Healthier women leads to healthier Moms and babies. When one is afflicted with a serious illness such as cancer, the entire family gets affected. It will become the family's battle against the Big C. Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer worldwide for women. In the country alone, over 7,000 new cases are reported each year. The thing with cervical cancer is that it is a silent killer because it doesn't show much symptoms or signs--so one never knows she had them until she goes through the screening process and see her physician. That is truly alarming aside from the fact that the Philippines has one of the lowest 5 year survival rates in the world (Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates 2005). The good news is women actually have the power over cancer. The key is for us to become aware, seek the right information and become vigilant. I knew a friend who was hesitant to get a cervical cancer vaccination because she didn't understand the need for it. But after she went to a forum on cervical cancer, she immediately got the HPV shots. Health is important and it is truly up to us on how we can improve our lives through early preventive measures. 

In the recent annual convention of the Philippine Obstetricians and Gynecologists Society (POGS), the doctors had stressed the significance of early detection and prevention through pap smear and vaccination. The Human Papillomavirus or HPV, is the necessary cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that's easily transmitted. All women are at risk regardless of age, lifestyle or economic status. HPV can be transmitted not only by engaging in sexual intercourse, but also from mere skin-to-skin contact of genital area (even without penetration). 

The vaccine is effective in protecting women from at least two types of HPV, which are responsible for over 70 percent of cervical cancer cases in Asia. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also offered the cervical bivalent vaccine that enhances the immune response and offers longer protection against cancer-causing types of HPV. Getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by 94%. 

HPV vaccination is currently not a part of the DOH's public health programs such as Expanded Program for Immunization and Cancer Control Program. But the DOH has established a Cervical Cancer Screening Program, it is a nationwide program that includes sustainable capability building, educating, training health workers on servical cancer screening methods like VIA, pap smear, etc.

As of the time being, they are still in the process of proposing that the government  must support the plan of including the HPV vaccines to become part of the expanded program of the Department of Health so that the public can avail them for free in local health centers. 

Dr. Carmen Quivero says that immunization is one of the most effective primary health care services. There is a need to fill a gap in such service for adolescents and adults, and the POGS is pushing through its immunization for filipino women. Guided which vaccination will be helpful to women, they came up with the recommendation and the creation of the vaccine wheel. The creation is the Clinical Practice Guidelines on Immunization for Filipino women and it also represents the continuing efforts of POGS to fulfill its advocacy. 

According to Dr. Susan Nagtalon, with around 3,300 members, from treatment to prevention, the POGS had been doing its best to further improve and get updates on scientific and medical breakthroughs as well as their knowledge in obstetric and gynecological cases, educate more people against teenage pregnancy, give more information, lecture on topics for other health concerns, increase illness awareness and protection in all women. The POGS also do community services and outreach even in the most remote areas or island of the country. The POGS fellows focused about topics that affect the women's well-being. Health issues are discussed in the open, they do their best to communicate as expeditiously as possible to all concerned Filipinos. If we protect women, we protect the child and prevent a family disease within the household. We provide protection to a certain number of people including the extended family.

With diseases and other lifestyle related health problems increasing in number, reach and intensity, POGS aims to increase women's awareness to continue to promote women's health as everyone's concern. Information is power. And it pays to become vigilant! Stay alert when it comes to your health. What may seem like ordinary symptoms could point to something serious.

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