Medical practitioners in Cavite including city and municipal health officers, doctors and dentists from public hospitals, nurses from the rural health units, members of the PWD federation, employees of the provincial government mainly from the Provincial Health Office (PHO), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Provincial Information and Community Affairs Department (PICAD) and some members of  the Hemophilia Advocates Philippines (HAP) convened at the Cavite Collaboration Center for Public Health Auditorium in Trece Martires City on July 9, 2019 for the first Hemophilia Awareness Symposium in the province.

With the noticeable low level of public awareness and even of some hospital personnel on hemophilia, the HAP-Cavite Chapter led by Ms. Lota N. Madamba tapped the provincial government through Provincial Health Officer Dr. Gilbert Ilog and Epidemiologist Dr. Nelson Soriano for the conduct of the one-day activity that encompassed talks about the bleeding disorder, its history and how it affects children and female patients. The organization aimed to raise social and political awareness for them to lobby their advocacy and seek legislative measures that will address the hemophilia medical condition.

Dr. Soriano who delivered a message on behalf of Dr. Ilog highlighted the importance of having a Hemophilia Treatment Directory and identification cards of PWH which can be presented to healthcare providers in availing medical and dental services. Likewise, Dr. Soriano underscored the value of the activity, believing in the principle that one must know the enemy in order to defeat it. Education is still the key along with proper information dissemination. He also thanked the attendees for their time and hoped that hemophilia be included in the Universal Health Care Bill.

Provincial Administrator for Community Affairs Dr. Alvin Mojica visited the activity on behalf of Governor Jonvic Remulla signifying support to the advocacy which gave more hope and strength to HAP-Cavite.

Participants showed much interest to the topics presented, thanking pediatric hematologist from the Korean-Philippines Friendship Hospital and a hemophilia advocate Dr. Melissa Montoya, for sharing significant inputs on pediatric bleeding disorder and a few tips on how to manage cases in children.

Dr. Montoya also shared the vital application of the acronym RICE for patients with hemophilia, which stands for Rest, Ice Packs, Compress and Elevate; while hemophilia in female patients was tackled by Dr. Jayson Dadural, an adult hematologist of Emilio Aguinaldo Medical Center. He said that bruising and other symptoms of hemophilia must be taken seriously and should be consulted immediately to doctors.

In addition, Dr. Montoya told audience that she already recommended to the Department of Health (DOH) for the allocation of Factor 8 (F8) concentrate to the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital (GEAMH).  Clotting factor concentrate prophylaxis aims to preserve joint function by converting severe hemophilia (factor VIII or IX less than 1%) into a clinically milder form of the disease. This news provided more hope to PWH given the fact that very few hospitals have the capacity to handle patients with bleeding disorders.

On the other hand, PWHs in Cavite gave testimonials on the challenges they face day by day, from pain levels, to hospital bills, transportation, down to stories of being refused by healthcare providers whenever being informed of their case. To assist them, Social Welfare Officer III Brendalyn Salazar of PSWDO discussed the simplified procedure and requirements on seeking financial/medical assistance, as well as on requesting for wheelchairs to the Office of the Provincial Governor. She also pledged that their office will lobby for PWH patients to be included in the special cases like chemotherapy and dialysis patients who are qualified to receive financial assistance from the provincial government on a regular term. The statement uplifted the spirits of hemophilia advocates, patients and their families, knowing that their needs are also being addressed by the government.

In closing, PHO’s National Blood Program Coordinator Ralph Laurence Figueroa, acknowledged the organizers and participants who made the event possible, underlining the significance of equitable distribution of resources, giving priorities to indigents in the province, since majority of Filipinos with bleeding disorders live below poverty line as per study of HAP.

Hemophilia is a genetically-inherited bleeding disorder in which the person’s blood does not clot normally. People with hemophilia can experience spontaneous bleeds with no known cause, internal bleeding and painful swollen joints. Medical scientists have not found a cure yet for what is termed a Royal Disease. Symptoms of hemophilia may include nosebleeds, bruising, bleeding for no reason, blood in urine and stool, nonstop bleeding after a cut, tooth extraction or circumcision or a heavy prolonged menstruation. Understanding hemophilia is a great first leap towards achieving the “Right to Live” campaign of HAP.

There are about 10, 000 Filipinos with hemophilia and about a million others with von Willebrand disease and other bleeding disorders in the Philippines, but only about 1,500 have been registered with the Philippine Hemophilia Foundation.

In Cavite, as of June 2019, according to HAP-Cavite Chapter there are 28 registered patients in their organization while others are yet to be identified.