Strengthens multi-sector collaboration to fight the disease
Cancer is strong, but the fight against it is stronger, especially when there are people around us to battle this brutal disease with.
In the Philippines, cancer poses major staggering challenges that menace so many Filipinos. Aside from being the second leading cause of mortality, many patients cry out financial setbacks from the hefty cost of treatment and the emotional torment along the battle journey.
As the market leader in oncology in the Philippines, Roche (Philippines) Incorporated recently launched its Strong for Someone advocacy that aims to inspire and ignite strength among cancer patients and their families by creating a nationwide community that will serve as their pillars of support. Strong for Someone is a multi-stakeholder campaign that provides access to information for cancer patients, caregivers, and their families on disease awareness, treatment solutions, funding sources, and emotional support.
“As a global organization of over 120 years, we commit ourselves to really doing what patients need next, not just in research but by way of assistance,” said Dr. Theresa Martinez, Roche (Phils) Inc. General Manager.
“In reality, while we produce medicines, what we do not understand is what else goes on inside a patient’s mind. And to be honest, while we aim for better outcomes physically, what they truly need is to be strong for someone. Our patients need our strength as well.”
The Strong for Someone advocacy emphasizes that the fight in keeping cancer at bay is plausible with the right medical expertise, timely healthcare interventions and cutting edge pharmaceutical solutions; by making life savings solution available; and by forming a support system whose listening ears and helping hands will serve as a moral compass for the patient.
Besting treatment solutions
But Roche (Phils) Inc. country manager director Dr. Diana Edralin said many cancer-stricken patients abruptly bail out from undergoing treatment procedure due to personal reasons, availability of medicine or they just simply choose to concede in the battle. This is because they are not served with more comprehensive and in-depth information on the treatments and other options that they make take.
To address this concern, the organization coordinated with the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO), a professional non-profit organization of medical oncologists that aims to advance the science and ethical, holistic practice of cancer care in the Philippines. They also help to provide education on the latest treatment solutions and information available for cancer patients.
“We want our approach to be more on giving patients informed decision. Before we decide on doing or undergoing any particular treatment, they should at least have an informed decision. Gather all information they can get that are validated and from reliable sources and then decide. We advocate the choice of patients, but still, as clinicians, we want the best for our patients,” said Dr. Hiyasmin Alejandro, PSMO Chair of Multimedia Committee.
Dr. Alejandro added that there are many treatment modalities available for every patient depending on the treatment plan that will work best for them.
As one of the most financially catastrophic illnesses, Roche (Phils) Inc. tapped the support of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to share both existing and upcoming programs that will lessen the financial burden among cancer patients and their families.
DOH cancer program manager Dr. Clarito Cairo said the health sector has rolled out financial assistance programs for Filipino cancer patients and is continually working to widen its access sites in the coming months to help more cancer patients and survivors.
“Even before the enactment of the cancer law, we have the medical assistance program in 2017 and we have the medicine access program since 2011 for breast cancer, childhood cancer, and colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Cairo. “For medical assistance program, we cover the diagnostic and therapeutic expenses.”
Dr. Cairo said with the signing of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, the DOH assistance programs will soon be scaled up and institutionalized for better accessibility, health outcomes and reduced financial burden.
PCSO also provides financial assistance under its Individual Medical Assistance Program. According to PCSO representative Dr. Marilucel Aganon, cancer patients can apply and avail of financial assistance from the organization anywhere in the country as long as they secure a complete copy of the required documents.
Strong for Someone is also endorsed by no less than television personality, model, and vlogger, Wil Dasovich, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017; but with the help and support of family and community, he was able to fight the disease. He serves as proof that a strong support group helps a cancer patient battle the disease better and stronger.
With this campaign, Roche, together with its partners and ambassador, aims to bring out strength from a network and community by using platforms that would further increase awareness on the advocacy campaign. These include videos and an interactive community page that will present cancer patient stories of survivorship to serve as an anthem of strength between patient and their loved ones. These channels will also serve as sources of information, engagement, and build connections from patients, doctors, support-groups, and institutions that can help provide financial support.
“While we recognize that better outcomes for patients are expected as new treatments are discovered and become available in the market, we also believe in the importance of the collective resolve of the patient’s support system to not give up and to be strong for each other”, said Edgar de las Alas, campaign lead from Roche. “Each cancer patient needs to have pillars of support: their families, their doctors, other patients, government institutions, private organizations. We are here to bridge them together.”
To know more about Strong for Someone advocacy campaign, follow https://www.facebook.com/pg/StrongforSomeone.