Starweek Magazine

New hope for children at PGH

Nancy Irlanda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  “I saw with my own eyes and held with my own hand the challenge to provide proper health care to young cancer patients when I visited at PGH the sick child of one of my own employees. Charity cannot wait.”

With these words, entrepreneur Alice Eduardo began a mission to build a much-needed facility for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Children with cancer comprise the fastest-growing sector of hospital patients, with their numbers rising by an alarming 30 percent every year.

This unfortunate situation has prompted the biggest government hospital and one of the biggest construction firms in the country to embark on a project to help diagnose and treat children stricken with cancer, especially those coming from poor and disadvantaged families.

Indigent families unable to afford expensive cancer medicine and access to quality treatment facilities may soon find relief once the PGH opens the new pediatric cancer ward, called the Hematology-Oncology Isolation Ward.

The immune system of children with cancer is already so low that they are even more susceptible to communicable diseases, especially when these children are not isolated in a separate ward.

The new facility, estimated to be completed in six months, will be donated to PGH by Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. headed by Eduardo, which boasts of an impressive track record in infrastructure development and energy projects.


Cancer prevalence

Leukemia accounts for some 40 to 60 percent of cancers among children. The disease accounts for more deaths among children than those caused by dengue shock syndrome, sepsis and prematurity combined, according to experts.

There are some 3,500 new cases of childhood cancers in the country each year, with 70 percent of them diagnosed in the late stages of the disease. This is when cure is no longer possible or can only be possible with the most aggressive and extremely costly treatments most families can hardly afford.

The survival rate is barely two in 10 children because of the high cost of diagnosis and treatment that childhood cancer entail.

Between 50 to 60 percent of these children, however, could be saved with relatively simple and inexpensive drugs and procedures.

The stand-alone pediatric cancer ward to be built by Sta. Elena within the PGH compound will be a 14-bed facility for children from poor families stricken with leukemia and other killer diseases.

The proposed two-story pediatric cancer ward will have in-patient chemotherapy facilities as well as blood transfusion and bone marrow extraction equipment and supplies.

The donation of the Hematology-Oncology Isolation Ward to the Department of Pediatrics of PGH is part of Sta. Elena’s corporate social responsibility program.

According to Eduardo, “Sta. Elena is giving back to the community, through its CSR program, what it has achieved in sustained growth from partnership with the business sector in various infrastructure, property development and energy projects over the years.”

“We are very glad to help PGH in this humanitarian endeavor, especially since we are going to help children from disadvantaged families unable to afford cancer detection and treatment to get a second chance and recover from life-threatening diseases,” Eduardo said.

Sta Elena’s donation of the facility was facilitated by Miss World Philippines national director Cory Quirino.

The PGH Medical Foundation, Inc. will receive the donation on behalf of PGH, represented by foundation president Edward Tordesillas.

PGH director Jose Gonzales said the donation is “most welcome as it gives us the means to adequately respond to the needs of indigent children suffering from various forms of cancer.”

For his part, Tordesillas expressed gratitude to Sta. Elena for the donation, saying that the pediatric cancer ward “will reinforce the hospital’s well-deserved reputation as one of the best in the country.”

PGH Pediatrics Department chair Juliet Sio-Aguilar said that this pediatric cancer ward “would be a great help to indigent children with cancer. We urge more donors to come forward and help PGH in our efforts to combat killer diseases.”

PGH is a tertiary state-owned hospital administered and operated by the University of the Philippines Manila and the UP System’s Health Sciences Center. It is the biggest hospital in the country with a 1,500-bed capacity.

PGH is a mixed-use hospital, with 1,000 beds for indigent patients and 500 beds for private patients. It offers one of the lowest rates for patients and one of the highest quality of care. It is usually the hospital of first and last resort for many indigent patients.

The PGH is also the largest training hospital in the country, as it is the laboratory hospital of health science students enrolled at UP. It has 14 clinical departments, all of which offer residency and fellowship training. It offers various training for paramedical specialties such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, radiation technology, nutrition, hospital dentistry, medical technology and EMT training.

On an average year, about 600,000 patients pass through the hospital’s halls. Because of this, a number of non-government organizations and business enterprises are partnering with the hospital to help upgrade its facilities and extend its reach in offering health care for all.

PGH celebrated its centennial in 2007. The hospital was established under a law passed by the American colonial government in 1907.










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