Novartis leads Thalassemia Day observance
(The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Novartis Healthcare Philippines partnered with patient support group Balikatang Thalassemia (Ba-Tha) and the Quezon City Health Department to lead the country’s observance of World Thalassemia Day (WTD).

The country’s WTD observance was held last May 8 at the inner lobby of the Quezon City Hall. The event was highlighted by the oath-taking of Quezon City health workers who pledged their commitment as “thalassemia champions.”

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder passed on from parents to their children. It causes the body to make abnormal forms of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

Thalassemia results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia. Complications include iron overload, bone deformities and cardiovascular disease.

“We thank Novartis and the Quezon City Health Department for helping us raise awareness about thalassemia and enhance the quality of care for thalassemia patients in the Philippines,” said Ba-Tha president Domingo de Guzman.

“Congratulations to Novartis, Ba-Tha and the Quezon City Health Department for spearheading the country’s WTD observance. The PCSO supports efforts to uplift the lives and quality of care of underprivileged Filipino patients,” said lawyer Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

“We are privileged to contribute to the provision of appropriate monitoring and treatment for Filipino patients with thalassemia. We call on other stakeholders to join in the fight against this blood disorder,” said Dr. Antonieta Inumerable, Quezon City health officer III.

Founded in 1993 by the late Dr. Alendry Caviles Jr. and Dr. Ernesto Yuson together with the families of Filipino thalassemia patients, Ba-Tha promotes public awareness on thalassemia and works with partners to uplift the quality of care for thalassemia patients in the country.

The group organizes regular lay fora, media guestings of thalassemia patients and advocates, and scientific lectures on thalassemia diagnosis and management.

Through the support of partner medical professionals and organizations, Ba-Tha is able to provide continuous thalassemia screening, patient and public education, blood transfusion and iron chelation (drug therapy to remove excess iron in the body).

In collaboration with Ba-Tha, PCSO and other stakeholders, Novartis Healthcare Philippines launched the ONCOURAGE Health Information Advocacy to promote public awareness and continuing medical education on the prevention, detection and management of cancer and blood disorders such as thalassemia.

“In line with our caring and curing mission, Novartis is committed to work with medical professionals, the government and other stakeholders to provide Filipino patients with access to effective thalassemia treatments,” said Thomas Weigold, president of Novartis Healthcare Philippines.

“Through our Novartis Oncology Access Program, we help underprivileged Filipino patients with thalassemia gain access to Deferasirox, a drug developed by Novartis to remove excess iron in the body of people who receive long-term blood transfusion,” said Bibiane Fontejon, Oncology Business Unit head of Novartis Healthcare Philippines.

BA-THA BA-THA AND THE QUEZON CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT BALIKATANG THALASSEMIA BIBIANE FONTEJON BLOOD NOVARTIS NOVARTIS HEALTHCARE PHILIPPINES PATIENTS QUEZON CITY THALASSEMIA
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