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“ILLUMINATE: Phototherapy Challenges during the COVID Pandemic: Phototherapy Updates and Shared Experiences in Thailand and Philippines”

7th Postgraduate Symposium East Avenue Medical Center Department of Dermatology and Skin Center

Executive Summary by Karlo Edwin R. Balisi, MD

The East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) Department of Dermatology held its seventh Postgraduate Symposium entitled “ILLUMINATE: Phototherapy Challenges during the COVID Pandemic: Phototherapy Updates and Shared Experiences in Thailand and Philippines” last September 10, 2020 with a total of 583 participants in attendance. The course primarily aimed to sharpen clinical skills on phototherapy as a commitment to being the Dermauthorities in the country. This postgraduate symposium was held online for the first time and started with an opening prayer and the national anthem. It was followed by encouraging welcoming remarks from the head of the 2020 Online Postgraduate Symposium, Dr. Wilsie S. Walinsundin. She gave her insights on online communications and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Franchesca Quinio, the moderator of the event then introduced the special guest speaker, Dr. Pravit Asawanonda from the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Pravit Asawanonda spoke about “Light at the End of the Tunnel: Phototherapy Challenges during Covid-19 Pandemic.” He tackled current experiences regarding Phototherapy in their country; how they strictly use different PPEs and how they practice physical distancing measures. He elaborated on the new virtual way of teaching his students both in the medical school and in clinical practice. Evidenced-based guidelines for Photodermatology practice during this time of the pandemic was shared. Lastly, Dr. Asawanonda closed his lecture by sharing the future of light therapy in Dermatology practice. The tips from his lecture include:

  1. To continue providing the best possible service to our patients but keeping in mind the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines to protect both the Health Care worker and the patients
  2. To stay connected with our colleagues and our patients despite the challenges of this pandemic
  3. To be keen in diagnosing skin diseases/irritations caused by PPEs and strong skin disinfectants

In an interesting back-to-back lectures on shared experience, Dr. Lily Lyralin Tumalad, an active consultant and Head of the Photodermatology Unit of the EAMC Department of Dermatology walked through phototherapy history of the department in a lecture entitled, “Sunrise: Phototherapy through the Years in East Avenue Medical Center Department of Dermatology.” She talked about the progress and development of Phototherapy in the Department. She gave details on the number of cases seen and the most common indications for phototherapy in the last five years. A discussion followed on the different adjustments and changes in the management protocol of patients specific to certain dermatologic conditions. The tips we can derive from the lecture are the following:

  1. Be more giving to our patients and continue service because Phototherapy is deemed necessary in many dermatological conditions
  2. We must all adapt, develop and evolve according to the needs of our patients through acquisition of knowledge and human resources, and acquisition of machines and equipment

Dr. Pravit Asawanonda gave a second lecture entitled “Photodermatology Practice in Thailand.” He focused on the basics of Phototherapy: description, indications, adverse reactions amongst others. Comparison pictures of his cases before and after a number of phototherapy sessions were shared. Clinical experience in combining different treatment interventions such as oral and biologic treatments with light therapy was discussed . He noted that the practice of phototherapy continued during the pandemic as many patients needed the procedure. He reminded the audience to:

  1. Treat patients individually; focus on their needs
  2. Collaborate and work with colleagues who share the same vision and goals during this stressful time.

The last lecturer was Dr. Vanessa M. Carpio, another specialist in Photodermatology, gave a virtual tour and guide on “The Stepwise Approach to Phototherapy Consults in EAMC.” She proceeded to show the different steps in going through a Phototherapy consult and session at the EAMC Skin Center.  She shared guidelines and journal articles on current recommendations during the pandemic. Dr. Carpio reminded the audience that the Covid-19 disease is still evolving, and we need to remain alert to changes and adjustments to keep us, the health professionals, and our patients safe during phototherapy sessions. The Open Forum proved to be an exciting part of the event. Questions raised included the use of phototherapy in children and in recalcitrant cases of pruritus, psoriasis and eczematous conditions such as atopic dermatitis and prurigo nodularis. The closing remarks was delivered by Dr. Ma. Angela Lavadia, the Chair of the EAMC Department of Dermatology, wherein she admonished the audience to be the light for our patients and to  break out of the COVID-19 Tunnel. An abundance of information and new insights on Photodermatology and Phototherapy were expounded upon by the roster of esteemed resource speakers during this post-graduate symposium. Truly, the event served to illuminate the participants with innovative yet evidence-based knowledge and practices, not only for the benefit of patient care, but also for the growth and development of this unique subspecialty of Dermatology.

Dr. Wilsie Walinsundin for her Welcome Remarks.

Dr. Pravit Asawanonda presenting his lecture entitled: “Light at the End of the Tunnel: Phototherapy Challenges during Covid-19 Pandemic”.

Dr. Lily Lyralin L. Tumalad during her lecture entitled: “Sunrise: Phototherapy through the Years in East Avenue Medical Center Department of Dermatology”.

Dr. Vanessa M. Carpio during her lecture entitled: “Stepwise Approach to Phototherapy Consults in EAMC”.

Dr. Maria Franchesca S. Quinio as a moderator of the Post Graduate Symposium.
Drs. Pravit, Carpio, Tumalad, and Quinio during the Question and Answer Portion.

Dr. Maria Angela Lavadia during the Closing Remarks of the Postgraduate Symposium.

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