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Monday, February 27, 2012

Medical Blogging: Keeping It Ethical

(Shortened version of a talk given on February 9, 2012 on the occasion of the 45th Association of Philippine Medical Colleges National Convention held at the Cebu Institute of Medicine, Philippines)

Lost in the talk on Medical Professionalism is the online aspect of Medical Professionalism. In this day and age, we must be thinking also of how we conduct ourselves online like in our blogs.

A blog is a very powerful tool. What is cool about blogs is that we as the author or writer of the blog post can also be our own editor, photographer and publisher rolled into one. A blog encourages interaction, conversation and feedback through its comments section. It makes readers part of the conversation and makes them part of the content. It also encourages sharing and networking through the social networking or sharing buttons.

A blog can come in many types. There are microblogs like Twitter and Tumbler. But there are also blog types according to genres. A blog can be personal, can be dealing with sports, events, entertainment, etc. But it can also be a medical blog.

There is an increasing trend of Filipino medical doctors who are blogging. Perhaps, Filipino medical students too. But only few are actually medical blogging.

The uniqueness of medical blogs

A medical blog has medicine or health as the main topic. A medical blog is unique because patient confidentiality is a consideration even online. It has to be accurate especially that medical blogs are often quoted. Otherwise, the results can be bad for both reader and author.

There is so much at stake with medical blogging. The author’s reputation and the reader’s health and even life may be on the line.

Medical blogs are prone to abuse. Some may pose as medical bloggers even if they are not competent to be one. They may pretend to be imparting medical knowledge when in fact they are just making articles up revolving around a medical keyword which has a high value in the online advertisements.

Many medical bloggers are also blogging anonymously.

And medical blogging is something new in the Philippines even if Filipinos are very much into social media.

Considering the reasons given above, ethical blogging should be practiced all the more with medical blogging. 

Ethical blogging

To keep a medical blog ethical, a medical blogger must observe the following:
  • Bloggers must respect the patient and medical professional relationship. Care must be taken not to accidentally reveal a patient’s identity. In the discussions, extra caution must be observed so that a patient’s identity cannot be inferred.
In the United States, there is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that protect individual’s personal health information which medical bloggers must comply with. The same principles mentioned in this act should perhaps also apply in the Philippines.

Bloggers may not mention patients’ names in their blog and think they have already complied with privacy rules. But other information such as the date, time, hospital service or department the blogger serves, the place, and uniqueness of an injury or uniqueness of an event may still lead to the patient being easily identified.      
  • There must be clear representation of authority and perspective. The blogger even if he is blogging anonymously must reveal his credentials or qualifications and must show the readers where he is coming from in writing this article. An About Me page may do this.
  • It must be made clear whether the post is a paid one. Commercial ties must be made clear. Clearly differentiate between editorial content and advertising content.
  •  Information imparted must be reliable and sources must be given due credit just like in writing a research paper.
  • Practice courtesy. Do not use curse words. Do not engage in personal attacks.
  • Think, think, think before you post.
In conclusion, I would like to leave a quote from my favorite uncle….Uncle Ben Parker (of Spiderman) who said “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I would like to repeat that a blog is a powerful tool. It is even made more powerful when a physician does the medical blogging because of the trust and confidence that he usually gets from his readers especially patients. 

Therefore I say to the medical bloggers out there, keep it (blogging) ethical.

Good afternoon and thank you.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Globe Run4Home 2012 in Cebu: Running for the Love of the Sport and for Charity

If there is one run newbies and veterans in running shouldn't miss, it is this year's Globe Run4Home which will be held for the first time in Cebu.

Not only will the runners get to improve their personal records or enjoy the running sport with their friends but they will also get to help noble causes for people, nature, endangered species or the environment especially with the recent calamities that hit the country.

Beneficiaries of the running event include Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanity (both providing housing development projects and build communities), Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (which help preserve the environment by empowering communities) and the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, Inc. (which help spread awareness about the endangered Philippine tarsier and its habitat as well as how to protect them).

Registration fees

Below is the different categories and the corresponding registration fees:

  • 3K  - PHP 300
  • 5K - PHP 400
  • 10K - PHP 500
  • 15K - PHP 600
  • 21K - PHP 700

The above registration fees are actually the most affordable in Globe Run4Home history.

Included in the registration fee are race shirts in various sizes, race bib number, and timing chip with Facebook tracker. Runners also get the chance to choose their beneficiary from the organizations mentioned earlier.

Runners registering as a group of 5 and running on the same category will enjoy free registration for their fifth member.


The winner of the 21K will receive a finisher's medal. The first three 21K finishers will bring home P15,000 cash, P10,000 and P7,000 while the top three 15K finishers will receive P10,000, P7,000 and P5,000.

10K top 3 placers will receive P7,000, P5,000 and P3,000. In the 5K race, the best 3 finishers will have P5,000, P3,000 and P2,000.

3K fastest three participants will get P3,000, P2,000 and P1,000.

Race details

The Run4Home will officially start at 5AM with the 21K race at the Cebu International Convention Center. Below are the other starting times:

15K - 5:30AM
10K - 5:45AM
5K  -  6:00AM
3K  -  6:15AM

And here is the race map:
Registration is ongoing at Paseo de Ciudad at the 1st level of Ayala Center, Cebu City or at the comfort of your homes via

This activity is supported by Alaska, Fox Channel, Gatorade, StarWorld and Summit Natural Drinking Water as major sponsors.

Minor sponsors include Cebu Marriot Hotel, McDonald's, Rexona, AirPhil Express, Active Zone of Ayala Center and Timex.

Media partners are the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Cebu Daily News, the Freeman, Newsbytes, RadioGMA, and SkyCable.

For more information, please contact Ms. Yoly Crisanto, Head, Corporate Communications of Globe at telephone number 730-2627 or email

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leprosy Elimination: Still Unfinished Business

During a three-day WHO Western Pacific regional meeting of national leprosy program managers, it was revealed that the Philippines registered the highest number of new cases in the Western Pacific region in 2010 as some areas remain leprosy hotspots.

A report cited that according to Former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez, leprosy hotspots in the Philippines include some areas in Cebu City, Metro Manila, Davao City, Ilocos Sur, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Tawi-tawi and Sulu.

Romualdez heads the Culion Foundation, a non-government organization working for the prevention and control of communicable diseases like leprosy. The foundation apparently got its name from Culion Island in Palawan, a former leper colony where patients with leprosy throughout the archipelago are brought for isolation (and incarceration) as there was no cure for leprosy at that time.

According to ILEP, leprosy existed in the country even before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. And its incidence was said to be fairly high during the time of the American occupation thus the creation of the Culion leper colony which at its peak held over 5,000 people.

In 1986, the National Leprosy Control Program was established in the Philippines. Since then, the incidence has decreased. Although the disease is considered eliminated in the Philippines (elimination = less than one case per 10,000 of population), with a current Philippine prevalence rate of 0.31 per 10,000 people (2,041 new cases), there remain to be pockets of leprosy cases. The social stigma of leprosy is still believed to be present making it difficult to really see all leprosy patients as some patients would try to hide their condition because of shame. This age-old stigma as WHO mentioned "is an obstacle to self-reporting and early treatment."

Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast bacilli (like tubercle bacilli) affecting the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and also the eyes among others with an incubation period of about five years. It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.

IT IS CURABLE with Multidrug therapy of dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine. However for treatment to reach all patients, treatment needs to be integrated into general health services. Community awareness must also be promoted to combat leprosy social stigma and encourage self-reporting so that patients will voluntarily seek treatment. Monitoring of treatment performance is also important.

Indeed we still have a lot to do to complete the business of truly eliminating leprosy in our country.

Like or Google plus this post to express your commitment to help battle leprosy in your area at least by spreading awareness.


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