The year 2020 has been fraught with unprecedented healthcare challenges, brought largely by the COVID-19. Private and public healthcare institutions were stretched beyond capacity, in their efforts to continue delivering services amidst the limits set by the pandemic.
As part of the health community, MSD in the Philippines, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, stepped up its efforts towards “inventing for life”, pioneering and strengthening multi-sectoral collaborations in a bid to improve patient outcomes and save lives in the midst of these uncertain times.
Here are 25 ways MSD gave back to the Filipino community in 2020.
1. “Bakuna Muna” was launched to inform the public of the benefits of vaccination while restoring and sustaining vaccine confidence. MSD and its multi-stakeholder partners spearheaded the advocacy campaign, emphasizing the importance of a life-course vaccination to enhance public health. This campaign also aimed to help inform the public of the benefits of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases and how it helps protect every member of the community with a resounding call, “ang bakunado, protektado!”
2. “Bakunado si Lolo’t Lola, Iwas Pulmonya,” a pneumonia disease awareness initiative for senior citizens, aimed to support the government’s Expanded Pneumococcal Immunization Program for Senior Citizens with an awareness campaign. The government program aims to protect Filipinos age 60 to 65 years old through free pneumonia vaccinations at local health centers or fixed immunization sites, with lectures on disease awareness and prevention.
3. The Philippine National Immunization Conference 2020 was held to advocate for a collaborative and multi-stakeholder approach to strengthening vaccine confidence and HPV immunization awareness.
4. BakunadoProtektado was a webinar hosted by MSD, in collaboration with the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), to restore vaccine confidence in cities.
5. World Pneumonia Day Observance was another online dialogue for LGU leaders to discuss why building vaccine confidence is integral in the overall success of routine immunization programs locally, hosted by LCP and MSD.
6. Sa Aking Paglaki, Walang HPV was held to raise awareness on HPV vaccination as part of the Department of Health School-Based Immunization (SBI) Program, currently being implemented as community-based immunization due to the pandemic. It highlights the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding HPV among members of the community, and underscored the need to prevent the physical, emotional, and financial burden that HPV-related diseases and cancers may cause in the future.
7. The HPV Summit Series 2020 was also held to emphasize a holistic approach to achieve the goal of a cervical cancer-free Philippines by 2040 through HPV vaccination, screening, and treatment of the pre-invasive disease, treatment of invasive cervical cancer, and symptom management and palliative care.
8. Call the Shots is an awareness campaign aimed to enjoin parents to immunize their children, presenting information about vaccine-preventable diseases and highlighting the value of vaccination during a child’s “first 1000 days of life.”
9. In line with the COVIDgilance webinar series organized by the University of the Philippines’ Mu Sigma Phi Medical Sorority, the “Balik Tiwala, Balik Bakuna” event debunked vaccination myths around the pandemic.
10. Meanwhile, the “Paano Mapapanatili ng Pagbabakuna ang Ating Kaligtasan sa Panahon ng Pandemia” online forum tackled the critical role of immunization in preventing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
11. Project W.I.S.E. or Well-being Initiatives and Support for the Elderly aimed to capacitate communities with knowledge on the issues faced by the geriatric population (aged 60 years and older), also reminding everyone that as a health intervention, vaccination helps lessen the burden on public health systems and protects the general population from exposure to infectious diseases.
12. Hand in hand with groups like the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP), MSD also helped raise awareness on choices available for women of reproductive age to enable them to plan for their families. The advocacy tapped experts to talk about why family planning should still be a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight the importance of ensuring accessible and quality family planning services especially among vulnerable populations.
13. Hope from Within (HFW) is a multi-stakeholder cancer advocacy program led by MSD, which champions awareness and education on early detection, testing, innovative treatment, and better patient access for quality cancer care. Its sustained efforts in engaging patients and cancer advocates through its digital platforms have gained recognition from Anvil Awards and Healthcare Asia Awards in 2020.
14. In partnership with the Philippine Association of Patient Organizations (PAPO), MSD helped ensure the safety and continuity of cancer care amidst the current pandemic with proactive assistance to guide and support patients and caregivers by sharing information on what hospitals and clinics are ready to receive patients for consultation, testing or treatment, how to contact their medical oncologists, and where to seek support throughout their journey.
15. HFW is one with the cancer community in advocating for the full implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, which will give better support to cancer patients, especially those from the underserved, while ensuring that the entire journey isn’t as physically, emotionally, and financially burdensome as it is typically known to be.
16. MSD shared Cancer Game Plan 2.0 Report, a comprehensive research using the Health Impact Projection model, co-authored by Dr. Madeline Valera and Dr. Gerardo Cornelio. Using local clinical data, the findings demonstrated significant increase in overall survival and an equal increase in quality of life scores amongst cancer patients who undergo immunotherapy, an innovative treatment option for Filipino cancer patients, should it receive government funding.
17. Cancer Game Plan 2.0 also had a roundtable discussion led by the HIP authors, with the participation of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, was recently held to provide government leaders, decision makers in health care, and the general public, data and perspective on the potential for better access and outcomes for Filipino cancer patients.
18. Cancer does not sleep in the time of COVID , a webinar in collaboration with the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO) and Cancer Coalition of the Philippines (CCPh), was one of the many forums on the continuity of cancer care in the midst of the pandemic supported by HFW.
19. HFW and BusinessWorld’s #BCWeCan (Because We Can), to educate breast cancer patients and the general public about the different types of breast cancer – including Triple Negative Breast Cancer which is the most aggressive sub-cancer type. They even came up with a breast cancer patient journey map.
20. HFW’s “Voices of Hope” introduced campaign ambassadors including Lung Cancer survivor, Tirso Cruz III, and caregivers to their loved ones- Ariella Arida, Susan Africa, Marlo Mortel, to share their cancer journey and inspire patients to push through their therapies and win the battle against cancer.
21. “Kontrolado Ko, Diabetes Ko” awareness initiative focused on patient empowerment and patient adherence to treatments their doctors advised, reminding people with diabetes that they are the primary decision-makers in the control of the daily management of their condition.
22. AMR Awareness was strengthened this year, with MSD’s collaboration with medical societies such as the Philippine Society for Medical Biology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), in educating patients, as well as the general medical community, about the need to be vigilant about Antimicrobial Resistance in the midst of COVID.
23. MSD participated in COVID-19 Relief Efforts for Frontliners and Hospitals, in partnership with the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). MSD and PHAP were able to raise approximately 2.5 million pesos.
24. Project Taal Relief Drive was organized by PHAP and MSD for communities impacted by the Taal Volcano eruption.
25. “Art for Healing” project is a compilation of handmade cards from employees’ children and friends. MSD sent these cards through the hospitals as part of patients’ breakfast trays. Appreciation cards were also sent to COVID frontliners for their bravery and inspiring work.
As MSD marks its 25th year in the Philippines in 2020, the company affirms its commitment to continue inventing and innovating to provide quality healthcare for the Filipino patient.
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