ICANSERVE Foundation and partner Taguig City marked Breast Cancer Awareness month with an OKtober forum that launched the retraining of barangay health workers (BHWs) for the local government’s Ating Dibdibin Program.

Ating Dibdibin is a comprehensive community-based breast cancer control program that raises awareness, promotes early detection, trains the city’s Health Office, medical team and BHWs in early detection techniques, and establishes patient navigation and a breast cancer trust fund solely for the treatment of those diagnosed under the program. Taguig became an Ating Dibdibin partner of ICANSERVE in 2012.

The OKtober forum, held on October 26, opened with a makeup session hosted by ICANSERVE spokesperson Bibeth Orteza, where she not only demonstrated makeup techniques but also shared her cancer journey. Participants also enjoyed a relaxing chair yoga session led by ICANSERVE president Nikoy de Guzman.

In her message, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano stressed the essential role of BHWs in the program’s success. “Proud na proud ako dahil si Mayor Lani at ang ating City Health Office ay may mga kasangga, mga sundalo— ang ating mga barangay health workers. Mabuhay kayong lahat! Pinasasalamatan ko ang dedication ninyo.”

ICANSERVE founding president Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala said, “Sa ating mga BHWs, para sa inyo ang araw na ito. Noong inumpisahan ang programang ito noong 2012, kayo ang unang binigyan ng pansin ng pagsasanay sa patient navigation. Sabi noong nagtetrain, ‘hindi kaya ‘yan ng BHW, pang nurse lang po ang patient navigation’. Sabi namin sa ICanServe, ‘hindi po, kaya ng mga taga-Taguig yan, papatunayan namin.’ At napatunayan nga natin. Kayo na lang ang may patient navigation para lang sa breast cancer sa bawat barangay. Walang ibang LGU na ganyan, matagumpay ito dahil sa inyo mismo.”

Taguig was also the pilot site for ICANSERVE’s Circle of Life Project where the data and digital infrastructure of Ating Dibdibin was established to easily identify gaps in cancer care, measure progress and make data driven decisions. In May 2023, ICANSERVE showcased Taguig City’s Ating Dibdibin Program to guests from the Geneva-based Union for International Cancer Control, a non-government organization with 1,180 member organizations in over 170 countries. The UICC guests were very impressed and asked advice how to set it up.

About 500 BHWs were trained that day on clinical breast examination by Dr. Cecille Montales. The training of 400 more BHWs will follow.

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