DOH supports PSMO for training of barangay health workers on cancer awareness, prevention, and screening
By: Dr. Lance Catedral
The Department of Health (DOH) supports the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology’s initiative to provide barangay health workers (BHWs) basic knowledge on cancer, cancer prevention and screening strategies, so these can be applied to their respective barangays.
“At least one third of cancers is preventable. And access to evidence-based cancer information can empower us all. Cancer diagnosed at an early stage—through screening or immediate consultation upon symptom presentation—offers the greatest chance for cure when treated early,” said Dr. Herdee Gloriane C. Luna, PSMO Multimedia Committee Chair.
“Cancer understandably cripples and causes fear. But the myths, misconceptions and the stigma surrounding cancer—for instance, that cancer is terminal and there is no cure and no hope— confirms our fears, causes delays in seeking early consult. This gap in early diagnosis and early treatment generally worsens patients’ outcomes,” Dr. Luna said.
AKAP: BHW Training and Workshop
The Abot Kamay Ako at ang PSMO (AKAP): BHW Training and Workshop is an online educational course that plans to cover multiple cancer sites. The first training module, CANCER 101, will include 30 minute-lecture video sessions on the basics of cancer, risk factors, signs and symptoms, cancer screening, lifestyle and diet prevention, and patient assistance programs. The six training lectures will be available as recorded sessions. They can be viewed at the participants’ most convenient time.
The project is expected to pilot run on February 18, 2022 and will be conducted virtually, with registration at https://bit.ly/BHWOnlineRegistration .
“This is a joint project by the Advocacy Committee, Multimedia Committee and Outreach Committee of the PSMO. The society recognizes multiple gaps. For instance, the disadvantaged groups are more likely to have higher exposure to cancer risk factors like tobacco exposure, unhealthy vices, lifestyle and diet or environmental hazards,” said Dr. Christian Cuaresma, PSMO Multimedia Committee Co-Chair.
BHWs and city/municipal health officers from Metro Manila, Cebu, Tagum, and Bulacan will be invited.
“These sites were identified based on proximity to DOH hospitals in order to bridge early referral pathways.” said Dr. Adeline Gonzales, PSMO’s Barangay Health Care Worker Training Module Lead.
The module training will be conducted largely in Filipino.
“For the CANCER 101 pilot run, we have six devoted outreach committee speakers composed of Dr. Elaine Ilagan-Cargullo, Dr. Joanmarie Balolong-Garcia, Dr. Aileen Bautista, Dr. Amabelle Gerona, Dr. Ana Karina De Lara and myself, who are committed in educating our countrymen. In the future, we hope these training modules will be available in different dialects. We are hoping to break barriers and save more lives though this educational initiative, ”said Dr. Arthur Jason Go, Chairman of the PSMO’s Outreach Committee.
In addition, there will be “pre-tests and post-tests for each lecture session to assess participants’ comprehension and learning via online platform,” according to Dr. Jestoni Aranilla, BHW Training’s lead in Learning Assessment.
At the end of the training, there will be “Q&As to address module questions, case presentation analysis to measure understanding, and breakout session workshops to identify the barangay’s barriers and solutions and suggestions to empower the BHWs,” according to Dr. Madonna Realuyo, BHW Workshop Lead, as BHWs are expected to develop community-based programs for cancer awareness, prevention, and screening based on the latest scientific evidence.
“Once the Module Training and Workshop is completed, certificates will be awarded to the Barangay Health Care Workers. There will be plans to expand CANCER 101 to cover other cancer sites, “ said Dr. Cyrielle Atutubo, BHW Training’s Website and Microsite Lead.
Improving cancer care
With this project, PSMO aims to establish good working relationships with BHWs to facilitate a referral system for patients who have abnormal results on cancer screening or those who are diagnosed with cancer.
“With the collective action of the society to save lives, we are zooming into the community, continue to listen and learn from the barangay health care workers themselves. This initiative aims to bridge the barriers to bring updated information closer to the community through collaboration with DOH to improve cancer care in the Philippines,” according to Dr. Hiyasmin A. Alejandro, Governing Council Board Member of the PSMO.
“We wanted to close this cancer care gap together. Abot Kamay Ako at ang PSMO (AKAP) is PSMO embracing the community, the underprivileged. We want to be there to connect you to evidenced-based cancer information. We will be your voice to reduce these fear, stigma and misconceptions. We will continue to strengthen support for patients with cancer and continue to provide you stories of faith, hope, love and survivorship. In AKAP, we will help bridge you to survivorship and better outcomes as long as we hold hands and help each other.,” said PSMO advocacy head Dr. Ellie Mae Villegas
“We learn from the communities—from their cultures and their beliefs and develop appropriate responses addressing knowledge and care barriers. We envision to create PSMO for all—to help them create sustainable change by empowering communities and working with the DOH for a wider reach to close the cancer care gap through effective education. In AKAP—Abot Kamay, Ako at ang PSMO —We will embrace and close the cancer care gap. ” said Dr. Arnold John Uson, President of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology.