Recognizing that only 1,000 of the 4,000 children diagnosed with cancer receive appropriate care and medication, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) has sworn unwavering support for the Aruga sa Batang may Cancer (ABC) Initiative that aims to provide web-based pediatric palliative care in the country.
ARUGA in Child with Cancer (ABC) Initiative. (Screenshot of the DOSTv Facebook page)
The DOST-PCHRD continues to support the Aruga sa Batang may Cancer (ABC) Initiative Program that aims to alleviate the health burden in pediatric patients diagnosed with cancer through the development and implementation of a website focused on the delivery of palliative concern, “DOST Secretary Fortunato” Boy “T. de la Peña said on the DOSTv Facebook page on Friday, April 30.
“The program addresses gaps in knowledge, expertise and accessibility of palliative care for pediatric patients, their primary caregivers and healthcare professionals,” he added.
The program was launched on March 22, 2018 and is run by the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) in partnership with Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) ), Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), and Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
The tertiary hospitals serve as their deployment locations.
De la Peña said the program provides learning management systems (LMS) for healthcare professionals and primary care providers of pediatric patients with cancer, pediatric oncology registries for health facility administrators and a telemedicine platform that can be used in Rural Health Units (RHUs), urban health centers and tertiary care facilities in PCMC, BRTTH, VSMMC and SPMC.
“It aims to reduce travel time and costs for pediatric cancer patients and their primary care providers, as the technology allows them to take advantage of follow-up teleconsultations in RHUs / health centers closest to where they live,” he said.
“It also aims to increase the knowledge of pediatric palliative care for healthcare professionals and primary care providers of pediatric cancer patients and to increase clinical data on the course and management of pediatric cancer cases for administrators of health care facilities and the Department of Health. Public health, ”he added.
The DOST chief noted that since March 2019, there have been 3,153 unique visitors to the Primary Caregiver Learning Management System of pediatric patients with cancer.
“On the other hand, there are 127 enrolled and 11 completers of the Pediatric Palliative Physician Course (PPCP). The course has been redesigned in two parts for better student retention. There are 682 enrollees and 272 people who have completed the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) course, ”he said.
He said the project team is consulting with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) regarding possible accreditation of the PPCP and ELNEC.
De la Peña said last year that the direct patient-to-doctor telemedicine mode has been developed to speed up patient enrollment and address limitations caused by the implementation of community quarantine and other security measures secondary to coronavirus disease ( COVID-19) pandemic.
“Since pediatric cancer patients are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and other infections, they are encouraged to stay at home and limit their exposure to other people. In this mode of telemedicine, the pediatric patient and their primary caregiver can consult oncologists or palliative care specialists directly at home via the online platform, ”he said.
He said 24 healthcare professionals from the four tertiary hospitals and their partner RHUs and local health centers have been trained to use the telemedicine platform so far.
“As of April 26, 2021, the telemedicine platform has served a total of 170 unique patients from CAR, region 2, region 3, NCR, region 4A, region 4B, region 5, region 7, region 11 and region 12,” he said.
Meanwhile, the project team also developed a pediatric oncology registry to collect and monitor health outcomes and clinical care delivery to pediatric patients with cancer counseling in PCMC, BRTTH, VSMMC and SPMC.
“The data from pediatric patients using teleconsultations were integrated into the pediatric oncology registry in the hospital. This is also in accordance with Republic Act No. 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, ”said de la Peña.
“The telemedicine platform and pediatric oncology registry will receive free licenses for PCMC, BRTTH, VSMMC and SPMC. To date, the draft license agreement is being reviewed by the legal offices of the partner hospitals. “
He said that UPOU will manage, maintain and continuously provide the LMS to primary care providers and healthcare professionals of pediatric patients with cancer.
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