Health Awareness

Survivors, medical organizations empowered against cervical cancer at ‘Di Mo DeCerv event

June 7, 2024

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More Filipinos need knowledge about the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

Cancer survivor and former athlete and coach Belay De la Cruz-Fernandez said as much during her talk at a recent cervical cancer awareness event, titled “Cervical Cancer: Di mo DeCerv.”

“I recalled seeing billboards by the Department of Health from before, saying “magpabakuna laban sa HPV.” We didn’t know what HPV was, but the information was out there! If I had understood it then, maybe things would have been different. While I’m still grateful to be able to talk about my experience, let’s remember that 12 Filipinas die from cervical cancer every day,” Belay said, emphasizing further that this matter needs to be prioritized.

Belay was one of the panelists at this milestone event that brought together medical organizations, patient communities, and the public in a shared mission to combat cervical cancer in the Philippines. 

Celebrity and influencer Andi Manzano-Reyes, another panelist, discussed how her advocacy to raise awareness around cervical cancer was inspired by her mother, a survivor herself. “My mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer ten years ago, which is why I became an advocate to encourage people to get vaccinated,” she said. Andi, a mother to three daughters, expressed that she making sure that her children get immunized against HPV-related diseases, too.

In line with this, the ‘Di Mo DeCerv event also spotlighted the availability of HPV vaccines in local pharmacies to promote better access to immunization against HPV-related diseases. This development opens up new avenues for individuals to get preventive care in familiar community settings.

“With pharmacies serving as accessible hubs for healthcare services, individuals can now easily incorporate HPV vaccination into their routine visits. We are removing potential barriers such as transportation issues or scheduling constraints,” said Makati Medical Center Pharmacy Services Department Head Hazel Docuyanan.

The event also saw the support of medical organization partners including Maxicare, Makati Medical Center, Mercury Drug, Life Saver, Hello Doctor, SouthStar Drug, Juan Medical, Travertine, CerviQ, Vaxcen, Kindred, JCI, and ZP Therapeutics, who all helped promote public health awareness and broad access to HPV vaccination and education.

Dr. Mary Anne Galang-Escalona, Country Medical Lead, MSD in the Philippines

Biopharmaceutical company MSD in the Philippines, who spearheaded the event, shared that they will continue their ongoing initiatives to support vaccination drives, improve access to screening services, and launch public education campaigns aimed at reducing the incidence of cervical cancer. 

These efforts are in line with the World Health Organization’s 90-70-90 initiative to eliminate cervical cancer: where 90% of girls are fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15; 70% of women are screened using a high-performance test by the age of 35, and again by the age of 45; and 90% of women with pre-cancer are treated and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed.

Awareness and action events like ‘Di Mo DeCerv continue to urge Filipinos to become advocates for positive change within their communities, and to continue the fight against cervical cancer for a healthy Philippines.