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AACE-Philippine Chapter: Empowering Filipino Endocrinologists and Patients

Healthcare may be foremost among people’s concerns. A person’s knowledge of his overall health and risk factors for certain diseases can go a long way in preventing illness. But if one doesn’t have access to information or to people who can help him gain awareness, will he live healthily ever after?

Such may have been the same question that ran through the minds of a group of Filipino endocrinologists when they initiated the establishment of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)-Philippine Chapter. Endocrinologists are physician-specialists committed to diagnosing and treating endocrine-related diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels, osteoporosis and other hormone problems.

Dr. Augusto D. Litonjua, AACE-Philippine chapter president emeritus and adviser, thought it would do the Filipinos good if the programs implemented in the United States would be executed in the Philippines. “You get the programs that already have found success in the United States, and then you just bring them over here,” he said.

Late in 2005, Dr. Litonjua tapped Dr. George Tan, who would later become its first president, to put up the Philippine chapter. In 2006, the AACE-Philippine Chapter was born – the first chapter in Southeast Asia and the third international chapter after india and Nigeria.

“Our thrust is empowerment of patients for optimum endocrine care because we know that endocrinology is not really that popular among filipinos,” said Dr. Tan. Though there have already been societies and organizations committed to enhancing the practice of endocrinology in the Philippines, the AACE-Philippine chapter trailblazers aimed to complement the existing efforts. “We do not repeat things that they’ve done, so what we do is complement those that they’ve been doing,” added Dr. Tan.

As an international chapter, AACE-Philippine chapter adheres to the mission and vision of the mother association in the US. The structure and goals are similar, although certain elements were adjusted. “The programs and projects of AACE in the US will be implemented in the Philippines, but they would be modified and fitted to the Filipino medical field as well as the patients,” explains Dr. Tan. Though relatively young, AACE-Philippine chapter is currently working on two major advocacy projects.

Living Out the Thrust
Knowing that lifestyle illnesses are becoming rampant even among kids, AACE-Philippine chapter has introduced to school-aged children the relevance of staying fit. In November 2007, it launched the Power of Prevention through Fitness and Nutrition. The association will be working with at least 20 schools across the country to incorporate educational material in the schools’ physical education programs. The participating sixth grade students will be taught to eat and exercise properly and will be closely monitored. An award awaits the students who show remarkable improvements.

The association also started an endocrine awareness program called, GOOD (goiter, osteoporosis, obesity and diabetes) Day, a highly-specialized medical mission. “We conduct screenings for those diseases, and then we also do medical check-ups,” shares Dr. Tan. Moved by the project’s success, Dr. Tan says that GOOD day will thereafter be an annual campaign, which will be simultaneously held every March in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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