Statistics in 2008 show that 3.5 million Filipinos suffer from Diabetes Mellitus, a metabolism disorder that affects the body’s reaction to glucose or sugar when it is not broken down by insulin. Aside from this staggering number, 5% are still undetected, while another 8% are pre-diabetic.
As one of the leading causes of deaths in the Philippines and in the world, diabetes is a disease that does not discriminate. It strikes anyone—regardless of age or gender. If it goes undeterred, the World Health Organization (WHO) projected that by 2030, the number of diabetics around the world will reach 334 million people. Based on the same WHO study, 7.8 million of these cases will come from the Philippines. The health organization also predicts that the number of deaths will double between 2005 and 2030 without proper aid or awareness on the complications that arise due to the disease.
This rising incidence of diabetes and the alarming lack of information on disease prevention and management have prompted HMO giant PhilCare to partner with the Agustin Tanco Foundation in forming an advocacy program that thrust into the spotlight the need for a more cohesive information and awareness program for the disease. Dubbed “One Million Warriors against Diabetes,” the advocacy’s main thrust is disease awareness programs that will provide more information about Diabetes and related proper care. The advocacy also wishes to tap one million individuals or advocates who will serve at the forefront in the battle against diabetes.
“Like most Filipino families, I know what it is like as we have a diabetic in the family. I experienced first-hand that proper information on the disease and its management are the keys to coping with the disease. What is unfortunate is that there is limited access to information available in the country, especially for diabetics belonging to low-income families, where the disease is more prevalent,” Joseph Augustin L. Tanco, executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) for PhilCare notes.
Tanco explains, “What does it take to be a warrior? A warrior is someone who is armed with correct knowledge of the disease. He is someone who is able to communicate actively with others the value of a healthier and more active lifestyle—whether to someone who is diabetic or not. A warrior works by paying it forward—if they were able to touch the lives of ten more people, then I am confident that we are already on our way to controlloing this disease.”
As one of the country’s leading healthcare services providers, Philcare believes that prevention is always better than cure. The advocacy will be launched to the public on Friday, June 24, with a three-day exhibition dubbed, “I Am – The Many Faces of Diabetes” showcasing twelve unique photographs captured by celebrity photographer Jun de Leon. The exhibit features thirteen diabetics who were able to live beyond the disease. The three-day exhibit will run until the 26th and will feature a registration area where interested “warriors against diabetes” can sign up. Incidentally, the launch coincides with the celebration of PhilCare’s 29 years of service in the country.
Following the launch, proponents of the advocacy hope to partner with other organizations including the Philippine Association of Diabetes Educators (PADE) and the Association of Diabetes Nurse Educators of the Philippines (ADNEP) who will be asked to serve as the key resource persons for sponsored lectures and activities. ATF and PhilCare will also launch a Facebook page and their website, http://www.onemilionwarriors.org, where interested individuals can learn more about Diabetes and sign up to become a warrior against the disease.