Anthony C. Leachon, MD
Chair, Advocacy and Communications Committee
Philippine College of Physicians
A healthy population is a prerequisite to national development, and caring for the health of citizens is one of the best demonstrations of the governments concern for the country's welfare. One objective way to measure the achievement of this goal is to analyze the basic health statistics on morbidity and mortality to see how well the government has been able to prevent or control disease. The Philippines' record on this aspect reveals an urgent need to reexamine the efforts towards disease management and a tremendous opportunity to apply a simple program of public health education and awareness to address the unresolved burden of preventable illnesses. In a related aspect, the contribution of healthcare professionals, who are in the best position to effect change in this field, to addressing these most pressing needs also needs evaluation. They can only help if they are aware of the problems, their possible solutions, and their critical role in helping the country to uplift the healthcare situation. The common thread of education and awareness runs through these conditions as a possible consolidating solution; if the promotion and maintenance of health, as a policy of the State, is emphasized to the public through basic structured education from elementary to college, and if healthcare professionals can be influenced in the academic institutions to understand and contribute more, the State may be able to promote a healthier society in a cost-effective way.
With an advocacy on preventive health education, we have re established our relevance in our ailing country. We have now recognized the urgent need for a culture change . As healthcare professionals, we need to own the problem to form part of the solution. Our role now is to heal, teach, and lead an ailing nation.
But, you ask, why do we have to change ourselves, when we are comfortable in our clinics? The answer is quite simple. We cannot demand change in the world if we cannot change ourselves. With the numerous medical issues, as exemplified by the brain drain, and the recent June nursing board exam scandal, the distortion they bring, not only exacerbates the defects of our healthcare and educational system, they test the integrity of our whole culture as well. The real victims in the aftermath of the brain drain and nursing board scam are the poor patients whom we care for everyday. Thus, we must always portray our role as healers and leaders with the patients' welfare in mind.
We, physicians, with all our passion for research and discipline in securing the right diagnosis and treatment, should look beyond our traditional role of healthcare providers and take a more active role in the healthcare legislation process and translate our expertise as analytical thinkers in helping our policy makers.
We meet passionate people everyday in our pursuit for the answers to our healthcare problems. I must confess that I have the greatest joy in engaging with different stakeholders people who want to do the right thing, individuals who want to create and offer solutions , organizations willing to share and help despite meager resources.
So why would PCP invest so much time and effort on social concerns? Do PCP members give so much to their patients and their communities because they think that its right to do or because we need to step up given the numerous healthcare issues confronting us? From my time spent exploring all levels of our organization and meeting all health and education leaders from all over the country, Ive concluded that the Philippine College of Physicians is the real deal.