P&G Health, the health care division of The Procter & Gamble Company hosted the kick-off of the ‘P&G Blood Health Forum’, a virtual series of medical education sharing sessions involving internationally recognized experts aimed at addressing the public health challenge that anemia continues to pose around the world.
Today, approximately 2.3 billion people suffer from anemia, with an estimated one in two attributed to iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and experiencing symptoms like frequent tiredness, dizziness, paleness, impaired immunity, thus impacting their quality of life and productivity. Southeast Asia and Africa continue to report the highest prevalence rates of anemia, accounting for 85 percent of global reported cases.
Held virtually across seven countries in Asia, this year’s opening session was themed ‘Pioneering blood health through early diagnosis and management of iron and micronutrient deficiency’. The discussion sessions, led by an international speaker faculty of leading experts in the fields of anemia, public health, iron physiology and nutritional health, covered a wide breadth of topics on the diagnosis, communication and management of iron deficiency and anemia in patients.
Importantly these topics were contextualized against the current global SARs-COV-2 pandemic. Drawing upon relevant, recent research exploring the potential role of red blood cell dynamics and iron homeostasis in the clinical presentation of COVID-19, the forum offered insights into physiological and clinical considerations for patient management in the new normal.
Renowned speakers included:
- Prof. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health (Canada)
- Dr. Michael Low, Consultant Haematologist, Monash Medical Centre (Australia)
- Prof. Dr. Michael B. Zimmermann, Professor of Human Nutrition at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zürich (Switzerland)
Aalok Agrawal, Senior Vice President, P&G Health – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said, “Anemia continues to be a public health issue around the world today, with some of the highest prevalence rates in Southeast Asia and Africa. Furthermore, it is a health risk that disproportionately affects some of our most vulnerable segments of society – women and children. With the P&G Blood Health Forum, we are heartened to be welcoming some of the world’s leading experts in the field of anemia, iron physiology and nutritional health, to exchange insights and work together to tackle the global anemia health problem. By providing a platform for the fruitful exchange of scientific research and clinical insights, we hope to nurture better awareness of the most effective approaches and tools in fighting anemia.”
Prof. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health (Canada) stated, “Despite sufficient evidence as to the burden and epidemiology of anemia and iron deficiency among children and women of reproductive age in various parts of the world, progress in terms of mitigation strategies remains slow and is associated with significant loss in human capital. These challenges have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and its myriad economic consequences. Addressing these systematically through improved diagnostic measures and appropriate interventions should become a global priority”.
“The full potential of several of the linked sustainable development goals for nutrition, health and learning (SDGs 2, 3 and 4) cannot be realized without addressing iron deficiency anemia at scale, especially among the marginalized and ultra-poor populations of the world”, Dr. Bhutta added.
As part of this initiative, P&G Health also announced a strategic partnership with the ‘Asia & Oceania Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecology’ (AOFOG) whom it will be collaborating with on future professional and public health initiatives. This includes a series of ‘Blood Health Forum’ virtual sessions covering topics designed to educate, raise awareness and ultimately support better patient outcomes.
Professor Kazunori Ochiai, President – AOFOG stated, “We are pleased to collaborate with P&G Health for the ‘Blood Health Forum’ which is an excellent platform to bring together the collective scientific knowledge and practice insights from around the world, and across Asia towards addressing the challenges of Iron-Deficiency Anemia and its impact on patient lives, especially in women.”
The forum was attended by more than 2,500 participants across Asia’s healthcare sector including more than 300 doctors from the Philippines. These included therapeutic specialists such as obstetricians and gynaecologists, paediatricians, general physicians and haematologists.
According to Dr. Reynaldo De-Castro (Assistant Professor – College of Medicine, De la Salle University; Head – Hemoglobinopathy Unit, Institute of Human Genetics; Head – Thalassemia Working Group, Philippine Society of Hematology and Consultant – Hematology Cancer Unit, Phil Children’s Medical Center and Lung Center), “Iron deficiency anemia is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the country affecting a significant number of infants (56.6%), pregnant women (50.7%), lactating women (45.7%) and children 6-12 years old (35.5%). Significant decrease1 in the prevalence rate of IDA has happened for the past 6 years as shown by the WHO country data in 2016, with the Philippines ranking 173rd out of 183 countries in women ages 15-49 years old, and ranking 153rd out of 183 countries on the prevalence of IDA in children less than 5 years of age2.”
“Through sessions such as the P&G Blood Health Forum, our endeavor is to make educational and informational tools around anemia more accessible to HCPs at their ease and convenience in these unprecedented times”, added Ferdinand G. Roxas, Commercial Leader P & G Personal Health Care Philippines.
The 2020 P&G Blood Health Forum marks the second edition of P&G Health’s International Convention on Iron Deficiency and Anemia, as part of P&G Health’s continued aim to empower consumers to live longer, healthier and more vibrant lives.