ADVOCATING IN THE PANDEMIC

ADVOCATING IN THE PANDEMIC 

The advocacy committee aims to continue, if not improve on the effectiveness of advocating in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippine College of Physicians has long been game-changers in the country as advocates of the prevention of non-communicable and communicable diseases through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle to improve the health and patterns of disease in the country.  

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCP through the Advocacy Committee under the cluster of Public Health and Social Responsibility headed by PCP Regent Dr. Rontgene Solante will continue its task as the voice of PCP in its initiatives for a healthier Philippines.

It is thus the committee’s goal to continue advocating effectively especially to the vulnerable sectors of the community. These are the diabetics, people with a history of heart disease, immunocompromised groups like the elderly, and cancer patients to name a few. While taking precautions to protect the vulnerable, we also advocate protecting frontliners, nurses, doctors, hospital staff, volunteers, even service providers, messengers and many other community-based stakeholders with whom we work with in the accomplishment of our tasks despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everything in our world is definitely changing but we cannot put our lives on hold, we have to adapt, adjust, and continue living. Hence, the advocacy committee will continue advocating in the pandemic. Hospital operations and businesses in both the private and government sectors will continue through a hybrid approach that now includes remote communications and work from home arrangements. PCP has conducted valuable virtual webinars to disseminate information to its members.

This is indeed an unprecedented time of uncertainty for us all, yet we know that the lifestyle diseases that have plagued our society before the pandemic continue to be a threat. It is thus critical that as we look at the protean manifestations and effects of COVID-19 on our society, we should not forget that we are still most vulnerable to the NCDs or the NON COMMUNICABLE DISEASES that the most vulnerable among us are even more so affected by this complicated situation of COVID-19.

COVID-19 now seems to be a lethal byword not just in hospitals but in households and everywhere. It can magnify the effects of pre-existing diseases on families and children who despite their resilience are most affected by the way adults are being affected and how they are responding to this pandemic.

Hence, Dr. Mario Panaligan, the current president-elect of the PCP has reinforced his mandate to make mental health a banner advocacy of the PCP. On June 19, 2020 the PCP in partnership with the Department of Health, held a webinar on “Helping Frontliners Cope with the Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19." Dr. Jasmine Vergara of the World Health Organization shared insights into the magnitude of mental health challenges in the country and all over the globe. Dr. Roberto Buenaventura presented the mental health challenges that healthcare workers are facing because of the pandemic. Both speakers eloquently shared coping strategies to help health care workers deal with the stress and anxiety brought about by COVID-19.

During 50th PCP Annual Convention, the Advocacy Committee staged a pre-convention on Integrating Mental Health into Everyday Medical Practice. Eight prominent experts in their field, namely, Dr. Jasmine G. Vergara, Dr. Jannel Gatlabayan-Cleto, Dr. Vanessa Kathleen B. Cainghug, Dr. Mary Anne P. Sunga, Dr. Maria Imelda B. Batar, Dr. Salvador Benjamin D. Vista, Dr. Edgardo Juan L. Tolentino Jr., and Dr. Robert D. Buenaventura shared their experiences and expert opinion to help viewers cope with the reality of the new normal as well as help Internists deal with the rising pandemic of mental health challenges in our country. It is hoped that awareness of mental health as a vital component to physical and emotional well-being will reduce the stigma attached to it towards a mentally healthier Philippines.