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Smile Train expands cleft care services in Phl

Every day, more than 540 babies are born with a cleft around the world, an ongoing reality that calls for comprehensive solutions to help them overcome challenges and live a happy, healthy life.

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Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, announced today the establishment of four Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC) centers across the Philippines to increase accessibility of treatment to cleft-affected individuals and their families.

Every day, more than 540 babies are born with a cleft around the world, an ongoing reality that calls for comprehensive solutions to help them overcome challenges and live a happy, healthy life. 

For the past two decades, Smile Train has supported more than 64,000 cleft surgeries through its 50+ partner hospitals and organizations throughout Philippines. As the organization marks its 20th anniversary in the country, it is further expanding its services to include nutrition support, orthodontic and dental treatment, and speech therapy in more locations across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 

“Smile Train’s goal is to provide those born with a cleft the necessary holistic care beyond their initial surgeries. We will continue to build a network that will bring comprehensive cleft care to Filipinos, so they have the support and the tools they need to overcome any challenge. Through this network and these comprehensive cleft centers, we aim to ultimately provide them the ability to work, play, and live happy, healthy and productive lives,” said Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train’s Vice-President for South East Asia. 

Smile Train’s geographical and programmatic expansion comes as the organization celebrates National Cleft and Craniofacial awareness month this July. Smile Train has launched comprehensive cleft centers at partner hospitals including the Philippine Band of Mercy and Marikina St. Vincent General Hospital in Metro Manila, San Fernandino Hospital in Pampanga, and Mabuhay Deseret Foundation in ARC Hospital in Cebu. At these centers, in addition to surgeries, parents and patients in need can access nutrition counselling and nutrition services, orthodontic treatment, and speech therapy sessions at no cost.   

These institutions have served as Smile Train’s partners for years, helping patients from across different provinces and performing thousands of cleft surgeries with the assistance of Smile Train, and will be continuing to do so in an increased capacity as CCC centers. Philippine Band of Mercy has performed 25,300 Smile Train-funded cleft surgeries since 2002; Marikina St. Vincent has performed 1,900+ cleft surgeries since 2011; San Fernando Hospital has done over 1,000 cleft surgeries since 2011; and Mabuhay Deseret Foundation has performed 1,500+ cleft surgeries since 2008. Additional partner hospitals will be able to provide CCC in the coming months.  

More on Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC)

Comprehensive cleft care complements cleft surgery, which Smile Train has been providing at no cost to families in need for over 20 years in the Philippines. Cleft treatment is not a one-off process or even just a series of surgeries, but often requires a holistic approach including nutritional support, dental and orthodontic care, psychosocial support, and speech therapy. CCC is provided by an interdisciplinary, supportive team of highly trained professionals that typically includes geneticists, nutritionists, surgeons, nurses, speech therapists, ENTs, audiologists, mental health counselors, dentists, and orthodontists, among others. For Smile Train and its medical partners, CCC means that each person with cleft has access to all the care they need in order to thrive.

The expansion of Smile Train’s CCC footprint also supports its efforts to promote a working telehealth network, which will allow patients to access CCC despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and geography.

In the Philippines, the pandemic has not gotten in the way of Smile Train’s efforts to help cleft patients, providing over 1,800+ surgeries (pandemic-related) done in 2020, and 1,120 in the first 6 months of 2021 with 26 partners actively doing surgeries.

Since the start of the pandemic, Smile Train’s speech telehealth program in the Philippines has treated over 200 patients, providing them with more than 1,000 cleft care-related sessions. Recently, the organization launched the country’s first Filipino speech therapy mobile application which serves as a platform for more patients and families born with cleft to continue to receive comprehensive cleft care with minimal disruptions.

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate, please visit smiletrain.org. To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines, please visit smiletrain.ph, follow Smile Train Philippines on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines. The Smile Train Philippines mobile application can be downloaded via Google Play and App Store.

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Product Showcase

Elevating holistic wellness through optimal liver health

The Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) states that the risk is especially high for those who are overweight, diabetic, or suffer from hypertension; making over 18 million Filipinos vulnerable to or already struggling with fatty liver disease. However, a surprising number of 11.9% of Filipinos also have the disease despite not being overweight.

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Did you know your liver is a multitasking champion? This largest organ in your body filters blood, absorbs nutrients, removes toxic substances from the body, makes protein building blocks for your cells, and acts as your body’s vitamin and mineral bank. However, despite its ability to keep the body functioning properly, liver disease quietly claims thousands of lives each year in the Philippines alone.

Liver disease refers to any condition that affects the liver’s structure or function which can develop into four stages: Hepatitis, Fibrosis, Cirrhosis, and ultimately—Liver failure. According to The Global State of Liver Health 2022 Report, liver disease complications resulted in a death rate of 2.65%, with an estimated 16,500 fatalities in the Philippines—a stark reality we cannot overlook. While alcohol is a major culprit, habits like regularly consuming fatty foods, sedentary routines, unhealthy diets, and relying on certain medications for a prolonged time also lead to liver problems.

The Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) states that the risk is especially high for those who are overweight, diabetic, or suffer from hypertension; making over 18 million Filipinos vulnerable to or already struggling with fatty liver disease. However, a surprising number of 11.9% of Filipinos also have the disease despite not being overweight.

This underscores the urgent need for proactive liver care, especially as World Liver Day on April 19th approaches. This global initiative aims to raise awareness about liver-related conditions and promote proactive measures for liver health as liver diseases often go unnoticed. 

Experts emphasize that, alongside necessary tests, adopting healthy eating habits, making lifestyle changes, and considering the potential benefits of supplements can significantly contribute to tackling this growing problem.

Protecting the liver holistically

LAC (Leader in Antioxidative Control), a health and wellness supplement retailer in the Philippines, supports a proactive approach to liver health through LAC Activated Liver Protector™, a capsule supplement containing a blend of Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs such as Hawthorn Fruit, Oriental Waterplantain Rhizome, and Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome that can prevent and relieve fatty liver, promote healthy liver function and lower bad blood lipid levels. 

“At LAC, our mission has always been to empower individuals on their lifelong wellness journeys—this commitment extends to liver health. Especially with the evolving lifestyles of Filipinos marked by shifts in dietary habits, increased stress, and higher exposure to toxins, maintaining optimal liver health has become imperative to counteract modern health challenges and sustain holistic well-being,” Evelyn Teo, Chief of Marketing at LAC Global, explains.

Recognizing the liver’s pivotal role as the body’s detoxification powerhouse, LAC understands the importance of protecting, nourishing, and aiding detoxification for holistic wellness. This led LAC to develop LAC Activated Liver Protector, a potent supplement designed to support optimal liver function. With its blend of herbs that have been used for centuries, the brand is bridging the gap between traditional wisdom and modern solutions–offering a convenient and effective approach to liver health all within one capsule.

Filipinos can take charge of not just their liver health but also their overall well-being through informed choices and high-quality supplements. As a champion of holistic wellness, LAC empowers individuals by providing a comprehensive range of supplements tailored to meet daily health needs at every life stage while promoting a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

About LAC Global

Headquartered in Singapore, LAC Global is one of Asia’s largest speciality retailers in nutritional supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbal, and other speciality supplements in Anti-ageing and Beauty, Immunity, Weight Management, Sports Nutrition, and Energy.

The Company owns the LAC brand, short for Leader in Antioxidative Control, a leading health and wellness supplement brand with a global presence. Since its founding, LAC has embarked on a pioneering journey to formulate scientifically-proven ingredients, harnessing the best of eastern wisdom and western technology to fight free radicals, combat ageing brought forth by oxidative stress, and support you daily in looking, feeling, and functioning at your best. Having established a global presence since 1997, LAC’s reach includes Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, China, Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, USA, Central & South Americas, and the Middle East. Currently, there are more than 220 LAC branded stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan ROC. LAC stringently sources ingredients from around the globe, such as USA, Japan, France, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland to ensure utmost quality, and works only with the most specialised partners in developing and manufacturing health solutions.

Its other brands include Xndo Food For Health. LAC Global is dedicated to ensuring consumers stay well, and live life to the fullest. 

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Product Showcase

How tailored microinsurance products are key to relevance and adoption in PH

As an insurtech, Igloo and its partners have been instrumental in facilitating a wide array of microinsurance products that safeguard the unique needs of digital natives and underserved sectors.

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For most people, understanding insurance boils down to the four most common types: life, health, auto, and long-term disability. While awareness of insurance importance is increasing, the aforementioned traditional insurance products are failing to resonate with many people due to various reasons including affordability, accessibility, and relevance. These factors have largely contributed to the low insurance penetration in the Philippines, which stands at 1.68% as of September 2023. 

This is where microinsurance is changing the game as insurtechs and insurance companies have introduced personalized microinsurance products that cater directly to the unique lifestyles and needs of Filipinos as they go through various stages of their lives. As an insurtech, Igloo and its partners have been instrumental in facilitating a wide array of microinsurance products that safeguard the unique needs of digital natives and underserved sectors. These products run the gamut from travel insurance, to electronics protection, e-commerce purchase protection, and even protection for the gamers’ health.

“While traditional insurance products may come with high premiums and broad coverage, microinsurance products are designed to provide targeted protection against specific risks that are relevant to our daily lives. By offering affordable products that address immediate needs, microinsurance can serve as the gateway to broader insurance protection and may be key to boosting insurance penetration,” said Roberto Vea, Commercial Lead at Igloo Philippines. 

Among the most popular insurance products Igloo PH and its partners facilitated are Gadget Protection and Online Shopping Protection. In 2023, Gadget Protection sold 10.3 million policies while Online Shopping Protection sold 1.98 million policies highlighting strong customer demand for coverage against electronic device damages and online purchase risks.

“Microinsurance empowers individuals to protect themselves against risks they face today, whether it’s safeguarding their electronics from liquid damage or ensuring affordable coverage for spontaneous travel adventures. At Igloo, we believe it’s important for insurers and insurtechs like ourselves to continuously develop relevant products and make sense for our customers,” Mario added.

As of September 2023, microinsurance premiums in the Philippines have increased by 19.6% to P10.16 billion, and over 56 million Filipinos are now insured under microinsurance policies. 

“The growth of the microinsurance industry underscores how the approach to insurance awareness is no longer one size fits all–it must evolve alongside our digital-first lifestyles, safeguarding our ever-expanding virtual assets and providing peace of mind in the face of modern risks,” Vea explained. “This also means ensuring that the products are where our consumers are–online, thus making sure that the entire buyer’s journey from consideration, to purchase, and claims must be easy, accessible, and uncomplicated.”

According to a recent study conducted by Manulife, 41% of Gen Z individuals (aged 18-24 years old, according to McKinsey) plan to purchase insurance online in the next 12 months. Furthermore, the study found that 33% of millennials (aged 25-44 years old) have already bought insurance online. This indicates that younger generations are increasingly preferring and adopting online channels for purchasing insurance.

This is where the availability of embedded insurance was able to expand the channels of distribution, providing consumers with a convenient way to discover, evaluate, and purchase products in just a few clicks. Igloo does this through partnerships with major e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee, leading payment platforms such as DANA in Indonesia and GCash in the Philippines, and retail chains like Circle K in Vietnam.

“As Igloo continues to play a vital role in making microinsurance accessible to millions of Filipinos, we remain committed to prioritizing products that not only raise insurance awareness and adoption but are also relevant, innovative, and customer-centric,” Vea ended.

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NewsMakers

Pru Life UK’s product guarantees 4% annual cash payout for 7 years

Customers’ principal money is secured with 100% cash back guarantee or return of the premium paid if the insured is still around after the 7-year insurance coverage period or maturity of the policy. The cash back gives comfort to families of a stable financial future.

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Pru Life UK launches a new product designed to provide Filipinos life insurance coverage while also allowing them to earn returns with rates comparable with those from a high-yielding time deposit. PRULove Wealth uniquely offers 4% annual cash payout, 100% cash back, and up to 125% insurance coverage.*  

Regardless of market conditions, customers can rely on a guaranteed 4% annual payout based on the single premium paid. PRULove Wealth complements their traditional bank deposit and fixed income-generating financial assets. The steady earnings assure them and their families cash to celebrate life’s milestones, boost personal savings, and provide an extra layer of financial cushion.  

Customers’ principal money is secured with 100% cash back guarantee or return of the premium paid if the insured is still around after the 7-year insurance coverage period or maturity of the policy. The cash back gives comfort to families of a stable financial future. 

The life insurance coverage of up to 125% based on the single premium gives the customers wealth protection for their families. Whatever happens to the insured, the beneficiary gets the whole proceeds up to 25% higher than the principal.*  

PRULove Wealth solidifies our unwavering commitment to being the Filipino families’ most trusted partners and protectors by providing financial solutions that address their evolving needs. With the guaranteed benefits of our new product, we aim to help more customers achieve financial protection and their wealth aspirations,” shares Allan Tumbaga, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer & Marketing Officer.  

PRULove Wealth can help customers who want a convenient one-time pay life insurance product that reaps an uninterrupted flow of cash and secured legacy without worrying about market volatility. 

Pru Life UK maintains its industry’s top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.   

Its wide range of products is accessible through its over 42,000 digitally-empowered agency force and like-minded ecosystems and digital partners. 

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