BHWs taught how to spot goiter, diabetes

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva May 29,2015 - 12:00 PM

Barangay health workers (BHW) from all over the province went home with additional knowledge after attending a diabetes and thyroid awareness seminar last Wednesday.

Held at the Capitol Social Hall, the event gathered 160 BHWs from 50 local government units in Cebu.

The event was organized by Diabetes Philippines Cebu Chapter and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, in cooperation with the Cebu Provincial Health Office.

Jovita Kiamco, 44, has been working as a BHW in barangay Tuyan, The City of Naga  for three years but it was only on Wednesday that she was enlightened on the diseases.

“I actually learned a lot. Hopefully, I will be able to relay this to my fellow workers,” she told Cebu Daily News.

A lecture on goiter was given by Dr. Sol Cutillar, while the diabetes lecture was conducted by Dr. Gail Lumapas-Gonzales.


Facing  a mirror, examine the lower front area of the neck (above collar bones and below the voice box).

As one swallows water, he or she should check for any bulges or protrusions in the area but it should not be confused with the Adam’s apple or the lymph nodes.

According to Dr. Cutillar, goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck, and is one of the endocrine glands responsible for producing hormones and regulating body functions.

Goiter is usually the result of a lack of the mineral iodine in the body but can also be caused by other factors.

Cutillar, in her presentation, said there is an  8.9 percent prevalence of goiter in the Philippines,  higher than the 1987 figures of 3.5% and that of 1993 at 6.7%.

In 1995, an act for salt iodination or the “Asin Law” was passed as a response to the prevalence of goiter in the country.

When dealing with patients with goiter, Cutillar taught them that they should ask for symptoms like difficulty in swallowing, shortness of breath, weight loss and having a hoarse voice.

These will be the basis for the BHWs to advise the patients to see a doctor.


Meanwhile, Dr. Lumapas-Gonzales said that there had been five million diagnosed cases of diabetes in the Philippines in 2008.

“Maybe there is an even greater number who remain undiagnosed,” she told reporters in an interview.

Lumapas-Gonzales said that the BHWs can definitely help in diabetes education to avoid further complications in patients, especially in the barangays.

“They can identify who need to be sent off for screening, as well as help in the distribution of insulin shots to those who need it in the barangays,” she said.

The two types of diabetes are Type 1, which is the  pancreas’ incapacity to produce insulin resulting in  the body’s inability  to absorb glucose; and Type 2, which is resistance to insulin.

Lumapas-Gonzales said those with Type 1 Diabetes will have to be on insulin for the rest of their lives.

She said that there is no age “requirement” to acquire diabetes but those who are 45 years old and above need to be screened.

Even those who are 16 years of age, especially those who are overweight, may show symptoms of adult diabetes.

She said that specific groups at risk from the disease are those with a history of gestational diabetes (acquiring diabetes during pregnancy); overweight or obese individuals; people who have hypertension and other cholesterol problems; and those with relatives up to the first degree of consanguinity with diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination with large volumes of urine, persistent hunger, weight loss and body weakness.

At the onset of any of these symptoms, Dr. Lumapas-Gonzales advised that individuals consult a doctor immediately.

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TAGS: barangay health workers, BHW, Capitol Social Hall, Cebu, diabetes, Dr. Lumapas-Gonzales, goiter, lecture on goiter, spot goiter, spotting goiter, thyroid awareness

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