Beat Hep C. This is the battlecry made by a number of organizations and personalities, and actor/director Michael De Mesa is one of the key people in doing so.
The Ang Probinsyano star joined Mylan, one of the world’s leading global pharmaceutical companies, in association with the Hepatology Society of Philippines (HSP), as they launched an awareness campaign for Hepatitis C in the country.
De Mesa spoke in a press conference held at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, where he claimed he fought the sickness for nearly two decades. First diagnozed in 1999, the veteran actor/director managed to overcome the disease and the stigma it implies through the support of his loved ones, lifestyle choices, and eventually medication that took him three months to get himself cleared from Hepatitis C since late 2017.
The BEATHepC (Become educated, aware, tested, and treated) campaign aims at spreading awareness about the disease through dissemination of information and promoting screening among Filipinos at risk.
It was known that around 1% of the Filipino population has chronic Hepatitis C, according to the Department of Health. According to the 2010 study on Global Burden of Disease by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, viral hepatitis causes one million deaths each year in the Asia Pacific region.
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the hep C virus which affects the liver and usually spreads when blood from a person infected with the hep C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. It progresses slowly in over the course of 10 to 40 years by attacking and damaging the liver. It can be done by means of killing the liver cells and scar tissue forms – a process called fibrosis.
For about 10% to 20% of people infected, Hep C can eventually lead to scarring of the liver (also called cirrhosis). Although some people will experience symptoms, about 80% of people with acute Hep C do not have any symptoms.
The said disease is endemic in the country and there is a lack of awareness about viral hepatitis and its transmission, prevention, screening, and management among patients, public, and healthcare providers.
“Chronic Hepatitis C infection may lead to serious complications such as cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. Patients with hepatitis C often do not show early symptoms and so it becomes very critical to educate the people about this infection. Early detection is key to treatment and prevention of liver disease progression. The positive news is that treatment for this disease is now easily accessible to all,” said Dr. Jade Jamias, Liver Specialist and President of HSP.
“Hepatitis C is a chronic public health concern in the Philippines. At Mylan Philippines we are committed to provide access to medicine for treatment of hepatitis C with the objective of reducing the disease burden. Through the BEATHepC campaign Mylan aims to create awareness around risks and misconceptions about the disease and encourage early screening and treatment to prevent the disease. We are happy to partner with HSP to drive this campaign across Philippines,” added Ms. Ester Tacanay, Country Manager of Mylan in Philippines.
The Mylan BEATHepC campaign supports the National Viral Hepatitis Task Force (NVHTF) to eliminate or significantly decrease the prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in the Philippines.