Quezon City, 9 March 2021 – In line with the observance of Philippine Digestive Health Week (PDHW) from March 7 to 13, health experts are urging Filipinos to take a proactive role in caring for their digestive health. Colorectal cancer, liver cancer, peptic ulcer disease, diarrhea, and stomach cancer are among the leading causes of sickness and death in the country. This year’s PDHW theme is “Empowering Filipinos to Care for their Digestive Health: Malusog na Tiyan, Masiglang Katawan”.

For the past 15 years, the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology (PSG), Philippine Society of Digestive Endoscopy (PSDE) and Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) have held their Joint Annual Convention (JAC) in conjunction with the three societies’ PDHW celebration. On March 18, 2020 the President signed Proclamation No. 930 declaring the second week of March of every year as Philippine Digestive Health Week.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to President Duterte for his invaluable support. Proclamation No. 930 will legitimize our efforts to celebrate PDHW annually and facilitate our initiatives to promote awareness on digestive health among Filipinos,” said Dr. Augusto Jose G. Galang, president of the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology (PSG).

“My warmest greetings to the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology as it spearheads the observance of Philippine Digestive Health Week. I am pleased with your organization’s efforts to work with the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Department of Health in celebrating this week-long occasion that aims to bring together our medical professionals and promote greater public awareness on digestive health… As we continue to deal with a global pandemic, I encourage you to continue working with the government in ensuring the improved wellbeing of every Filipino and upholding the highest quality of medical care for all,” said President Duterte.

“This year’s PDHW theme is ‘Malusog na Tiyan, Masiglang Katawan’ is appropriate and timely as we address the growing burden of various diseases and conditions relating to digestive health, and recenter the discussion on preventive measures. I am hopeful that the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology would find ways to integrate and collaborate with primary care providers to ensure a holistic approach to caring for all even before they become sick. Rest assured that the DOH is one with you in this vast endeavor,” said Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III.

“We will heighten the information drive on colorectal cancer every March as we observe Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Together with our multi-stakeholder partners led by the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, we will launch the use of fecal immunochemical test or FIT as the primary population-based colorectal cancer screening tool. This will be followed by Colonoscopy which is both diagnostic for colorectal cancer and therapeutic for premalignant polyps and is also used for cancer surveillance,” said Dr. Clarito U. Cairo, Jr., Program Manager of the National Integrated Cancer Control Program, DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau.

“Any death due to preventable diseases is unacceptable. The cost of treating diseases and conditions affecting the digestive system as well as the pain and suffering of patients and their families would have been unnecessary if we only had the guts to stop them from happening in the first place,” said Representative Angelina D.L. Tan, Chairperson, Committee on Health, House of Representatives.

“Let us engage communities and families as our partners in health, continue to promote awareness, educate the public, maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and pool our resources for the prevention and management of various diseases and conditions relating to digestive health,” said Dr. Benito Atienza, President, Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

“The PSG, PSDE and HSP have lined up webinars this week, March 8 to 11, that aim to increase awareness on digestive health among both laypersons and primary care physicians,” said Dr. Allan A. Policarpio, Chair, PDHW 2021.

“Tummy Talks”, a 4-part online talk show will feature gastrointestinal health and wellness, awareness on colorectal cancer, H. pylori infection and gastric cancer, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Concurrently, a webinar lecture series on dyspepsia, H. pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer screening, gallbladder diseases, acute pancreatitis, viral hepatitis, and cirrhosis and its complications will be held for general practitioners and family physicians. There will also be a lay forum on the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), a screening test for colorectal cancer.

“Digestive health is for everyone, both young and old. The pediatric patient is not a small adult and there are digestive diseases unique to them,” said Dr. Marilou Tan, President, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (PSPGHAN).

“I laud all the participants, especially our medical frontliners present for dedicating your time and effort here to improve the well-being of our people particularly by preventing, treating and managing digestive-related issues. I trust that this event will also promote greater awareness among the public on how to achieve optimum digestive health especially now that we are on our way towards recovery.” Said Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go, Chair, Senate Committee on Health and Demography.