Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives to Address Burden of Chronic Diseases in the Philippines

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives to Address Burden of Chronic Diseases in the Philippines


Diabetes, heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in the country. The Philippines is one of 23 countries that contribute to around 80% of the total number of deaths attributable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in developing countries, and 50% of the total disease burden caused by NCDs worldwide. Nine out of 10 Filipinos have one or more of the six prevalent NCD risk factors: smoking, physical inactivity, hypertension, high cholesterol, overweight and obesity. Ranked in the top 15 in the world for diabetes prevalence, the Philippines is one of the world’s emerging diabetes hotspots. There are over 4 million Filipinos diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—and a worryingly large unknown number who are unaware they have diabetes.

To address this alarming situation, Novo Nordisk, the world leader in diabetes care, is supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives for the prevention, early detection and optimal management of NCDs in the country.

blurb 2“NCD prevalence will continue to rise world-wide and in the Philippines. Moreover, the causes and effects of the most important chronic diseases, including diabetes, are in many cases interconnected. As such, Novo Nordisk strongly supports the proposed clinical care pathway, which provides a systematic, integrated approach to NCD prevention, treatment and control as it will both reduce the suffering of millions of Filipino families and reduce the economic burden on society. Successful treatment of diabetes, probably the biggest epidemic the world has ever seen, depends on early detection and early and appropriate treatment, including insulin therapy, which can help prevent serious diabetes complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness and amputations,” said Prof. Boerge Diderichsen, Vice-President for Research and Development Outreach, Novo Nordisk.

Dr. Fely Marilyn Lorenzo, Professor, College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila, presented a proposed clinical care pathway for NCDs during a session entitled “Multi-stakeholder Actions to Address the Burden of Non-communicable Diseases” on August 26, 2015 at the Philippine International Convention Center. The session is part of the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015 organized by the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED), in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“The proposed clinical care pathway for NCDs is based on two studies commissioned by the DOH. The pathway proposes inclusion of risk assessment and early intervention services for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancers in primary and secondary care facilities. Provision of early intervention services was seen to be a cost-effective means of addressing NCDs especially when compared to paying for complications from diabetes, hypertension or stroke.” said Dr. Lorenzo.

“There are at least two overarching interventions for non-communicable diseases and they are seen in the proposed clinical care pathway. First, it is important to address the needs of people already afflicted with non-communicable diseases through appropriate lifestyle interventions and medications. Equally important is reducing identified, modifiable dietary and lifestyle risk factors to help prevent most cases of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many cancers. Preventing these diseases will require changes in behaviors related to smoking, physical activity, and diet. We, therefore, need to invest in healthy lifestyle education for the general public and continuing medical education for healthcare professionals to support and encourage these changes. However, the government has a big role to play in making sure that individuals at risk may be prevented from developing NCDs by creating the “healthier environment” thru legislation, like the Sin tax law, restricted access to retailed alcohol, public awareness about diet and physical activity and developing a national reporting system on cause-specific mortality related to NCDs” said Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus, Vice-President, Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (PSEDM).

blurb 3“The studies presented on the burden to persons and families brought about by NCDs and the proposed clinical care pathways are good input to PhilHealth’s continuing effort to improve primary care benefits for Filipinos. Through enhanced Primary Care Benefit Packages (Tsek ap), PhilHealth aims to mitigate the increasing incidence of NCDs and their complications by establishing standardized management that ensures early detection, utilization of cost-effective laboratory diagnostic procedures, and administration of appropriate medicines in the outpatient care setting,” said Dr. Israel Francis Pargas, Vice-President for Corporate Affairs, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) as represented by Mr. Vergil de Claro, Division Chief for Corporate Planning, PHIC.

“The DOH is cognizant of the fact that it cannot address the growing epidemic of NCDs by itself. These chronic diseases are not individual but public health problems which require the participation of the whole- of- government and the whole- of -society. A multisectoral approach and the incorporation of health in all policies are essential in order to strengthen and sustain the collaboration of all stakeholders on the prevention and control of these diseases. Going beyond health to policies that support healthy lifestyes such as urban planning and good nutrition so that people can find and afford healthy food with less salt, sugar and fat, have access to walk paths, bicycle lanes, safe water supply and support people’s choice to not smoke cigarettes.  It is only then that can we win the battle against NCDs.” explained by Dr. Ma. Elizabeth I. Caluag

“Out-of-pocket expenditures for complications brought about by NCDs can be catastrophic for the family. Therefore, social health protection mechanisms primarily through PhilHealth and policies to support healthy lifestyle are vital in ensuring financial protection and access to early and quality health care as well as health promotion.  Collaboration is the key in the fight against NCDs. The government can’t do it alone and our efforts can only be sustained with the participation of the different sectors.” said Dr. Esperanza Cabral, former Secretary of Health.