DOH, Merck, PTA Unite to Fight Thyroid Disorders

DOH, Merck, PTA Unite to Fight Thyroid Disorders


MANILA, Sep. 18 – The Department of Health (DOH) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Merck Inc. Philippines and the Philippine Thyroid Association (PTA) to implement activities in increasing awareness among Filipinos with thyroid disorders.

This is after the 2013 National Nutrition Survey showed that about 5.8 million Filipinos are now afflicted with thyroid disorder in different clinical presentations.

Under the said MOA, the partnership of DOH, Merck, and PTA will also strive to improve the capacity of health care professionals in diagnosing and managing thyroid disorders through a public-private partnership.

Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin revealed that thyroid disorders represent a spectrum of disease affecting women more than men. She added that one major contributory factor for the high prevalence of thyroid disorder is iodine deficiency.

blurb 1“We are very pleased to join forces with the Department of Health and the Philippine Thyroid Association to advance the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders across the Philippines and at the same occasion put a spotlight on women’s health and well-being as thyroid disorders is one of the most prevalent yet untreated health disorders among women in the country,” said Belén Garijo, member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare of Merck.

The launch of the partnership takes place in the context of the Philippines hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings this year. One specific topic – “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies,” is being championed by the Philippines to bring to light that increasing women’s economic participation is important for sustainable economic development.

“We are proud to be a key partner in the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative,” Belén Garijo said, adding that the DOH already drafted a policy toolkit which includes access to thyroid treatment, provides evidence and good practices on how to improve women’s health for greater economic participation and ultimately higher economic growth.

Also participating in the MOA signing were PTA President Ruben V. Ogbac and Merck Inc. Philippines President and Managing Director Ramonito Tampos.

Meanwhile, Garin explained that the thyroid gland is located in the neck in front of the windpipe and secretes hormones necessary for the body’s growth and development. Iodine Deficiency is the main cause of thyroid disorders such as endemic goiter and hypothyroidism. If left untreated, hypothyroidism is associated with a wide range of mild to severe health conditions, including among others, heart disease, infertility, osteoporosis, depression, and poor memory and concentration. Moreover, an estimated 9 million Filipinos suffer from goiter.

blurb 2In children, hypothyroidism causes delay in growth and development, as well as intellectual impairment. In pregnant women, hypothyroidism can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia and may lead to miscarriage and anemia as well as a low birth weight and neuro-cognitive defects of newborn babies.

Hypothyroidism is 8-10 times more common in women than men and there are certain times in a woman’s life when she is most vulnerable to thyroid problems, such as during pregnancy and menopause.

It is expressly understood under the said MOA that the activities of Merck and PTA shall be limited to raising awareness and health promotion only and shall not use such activities in the promotion or marketing of their respective pharmaceutical products/drugs. (DOH)


– Philippine Information Agency