Tag Archives: Health

‘Healthy APEC 2020 Initiative’ seen

HEALTH ministers from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are working to develop a roadmap for the implementation of a new initiative to promote a healthy Asia Pacific by 2020, to be endorsed to APEC Leaders this November.
“Implementation of this roadmap would go a long way to addressing the struggle we all are facing on infectious and chronic disease,” said Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin at the opening of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held in Cebu City Sunday.
Garin said health ministers will endorse the roadmap and identify key areas where each of APEC member economy can take a lead in collective implementation.
The Roadmap for the “Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Initiative” covers the critical success factors and immediate actions to ensure that the initiative is implemented in a meaningful, sustainable, cost-effective way to mitigate threats to the region’s people, trade and economic security.
DOH Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the roadmap covers critical areas, including prevention and control of priority diseases such as non-communicable and infectious ones.
“If we significantly cut them (diseases) down, it will then rebound to a healthy population. That will cut the cost of government expenditures as well as out-of-pocket expenditures,” Go said.
Meanwhile, Garin said other new initiatives the health ministers will endorse to APEC Leaders this November are those on infectious disease, chronic disease and fiscal implications of ill-health.
To address the cause of a number of infectious diseases which is the lack of a safe blood supply, she said the APEC members are working to launch the APEC Blood Supply Chain Partnership Training Network.
This will help build the capacity of laboratory managers and blood bankers and help them achieve international accreditation, she added.
Garin said they also target to launch a digital hub this year to promote innovative collaborations between governments, academia and the private sector on advancing mental well-being.
The APEC is holding its Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and Related Meetings in Cebu until Sept. 6.

PH urges APEC to invest in health

DISEASES and illnesses cost the Philippines around 3 to 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), highlighting the importance of investing in the health sector of the country and of other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies in a bid to sustain economic development.
Peter Sheehan, research director at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies in Australia, on Sunday cited the result of a study commissioned by the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) indicating the Philippine economic loss due to non-communicable diseases and poor mental health.
“The loss is currently about at 3-4 percent. We projected this to rise to about 6 percent by 2030, this is on the rising trajectory,” Sheehan said on the sidelines of a press briefing, noting these are just losses associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.
Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin underscored the need for member economies of APEC to promote good health in order to stimulate and sustain economic and social development.
“Good health allows citizens to reach their full productive potential, and the innovations that drive good health provide an economic return that is astounding,” she said at the opening of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held in Cebu City.
Garin also cited the results of an earlier LSIF study that showed a return of $30 to $1 for investment in innovation and innovative approaches to maternal and child health.
The health chief thus urged APEC member economies to work and engage their budget and finance planners in their efforts to mitigate the social and economic effects of ill-health.
“Economic planning and finance communities look at health as a cost. I would like to put it that mental and physical well-being should be regarded as investments, without which will result in astronomical costs to governments, corporations and our citizens,” she added.
Garin believed that investing in health is critical for reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth.
“As more people are forced to retire early because of ill-health, the economy will become less productive, social welfare budgets will be severely strained and our work to alleviate poverty will be undone rapidly as significant segments of the population are thrown back into poverty,” she noted.
For his part, DOH Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the Philippines is embarking on a plan to develope health facilities based on the needs of people in both rural and urban areas.
“…We got the sin tax law passed (so) there is now a quite substantive amount of money at the disposal of our health department and other government agencies to come together and develop a meaningful use of that money in order to bring better health outcome to our people,” he said.
The APEC is holding its Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and Related Meetings here until Sept. 6.

Manila haven of fake products?

PHILIPPINE Senator Bam Aquino on Monday called on consumers to be more vigilant on what they purchase, with the reported entry of fake rice and noodles and tainted candies in the market.
“Consumers have to be always on guard on what they buy, now that fake and tainted products have made it to the market,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
The senator made the pronouncement amid reports of fake rice and noodles reportedly being sold in Davao City. At the same time, around 2,000 people suffered food poisoning after consuming tainted durian candies in the Caraga region.

Philippines prepared for MERS-CoV

A PHILIPPINE official on Monday assured that the country is prepared to deal with the Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which is now wreaking havoc in South Korea.
“The Philippines is fully prepared to thwart and contain the Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus and government has put in place all the necessary preventive measures, including contact-tracing and other infection control protocols to isolate those exhibiting symptoms of MERS-CoV,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.
Secretary Coloma noted that since the first quarter of 2014, when MERS-CoV was first reported in the Middle East, the Department of Health (DoH) has conducted intensive monitoring and information dissemination campaigns among Filipino nationals, especially among health workers and hospital employees.
“It may be recalled that last year, the DoH conducted successful contact-tracing, and isolation when it was learned that a Filipino hospital employee, who had tested positive for MERS-CoV in the Middle East, had entered the country. The patient was confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and later tested negative. Similar cases reported in August 2014 and February 2015 were likewise successfully contained,” he said.
Coloma said that according to Health Secretary Janette Garin, the Philippines remains “MERS-CoV-free”.
“As a member state of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines abides by its advice ‘to continue surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to review any unusual patterns’,” he said.
He quoted the WHO as saying that given the lack of evidence of human-to-human transmission in South Korea, it “does not advise special procedures at points of entry, or travel, or trade restrictions” in that country.
Coloma however reiterated the government’s call for all Filipinos in the Middle East and those travelling to South Korea to remain vigilant, take precautionary measures, heed local health regulations, and observe personal hygiene measures.
“Filipinos coming in from South Korea are advised to accurately accomplish quarantine forms that will facilitate contact tracing,” he added.

Canadian garbage dumped in Phl

THE committee on ecology of the Philippine House of Representatives will conduct an inquiry into the shipment of recyclable materials that contained “heterogeneous plastic scrap materials” that arrived in the Port of Manila.
According to a group of Filipino environmentalists headed by Anna Marie Kapunan, the Canadian garbage with decomposing community wastes, including used adult diapers, was shipped to Manila early last year.
Kapunan said the materials, considered as contraband in violation of the Basel Ban convention, were seized by the Bureau of Customs and impounded causing the government to lose P71,736,280.00 (equivalent to 2,488,250.00 in Canadian currency) due to storage and demurrage.
She said despite the government’s efforts to follow protocols in coordinating with the Canadian Embassy to fulfill its part in shipping the wastes back to Canada, the garbage continued to remain in the Philippines.

Philippine senator: Help cancer patients

PHILIPPINE Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday urged her colleagues to find ways of helping relieve the excruciating pain suffered by Filipinos battling cancer.
Santiago, who last year announced that she had lung cancer, filed Senate Resolution No. 1215, seeking an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that some 45,000 Filipino cancer patients die annually without access to strong painkillers.
“Every year, 98,200 Filipinos are diagnosed with cancer and 59,000 of these patients die. What is more alarming is the fact that 75 percent of those who die first have to endure unimaginable pain,” the senator said, citing data from the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Pain Societies (ASEAPS).
Both groups blamed the painful deaths to low access to strong painkillers, such as morphine. They noted that the country’s consumption was at 0.6 milligrams (mg) per capita, way below the global average of 6.11 mg per capita.

Former Phl president seeks UN help

FORMER Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a case at the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the alleged violation of her rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCOR).
The petition was filed by international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, who is married to Hollywood actor George Clooney.
According to reports, Clooney said the Philippine government has violated ICCPR’s Articles 9, 14, 19 and 25 when Arroyo was placed in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City despite her medical condition and political status.
Clooney, a London-based Lebanese-British lawyer, said Arroyo must be given temporary release so she could seek medical treatment abroad.
The Philippine government on Tuesday reiterated it has yet to receive notification regarding the petition filed at the United Nations by Arroyo’s international lawyer.
“We have yet to receive a formal notice on the reported case filed by Ms. Amal Alamuddin-Clooney before the United Nations. The government will respond accordingly, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Solicitor General, once we shall have received the requisite notice,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.
Secretary Coloma was commenting on reports that international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has sought the intervention of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the alleged violation of Arroyo’s rights under the ICCPR.
Meanwhile, Rep. Neri Colmenares of the nationalist bloc on Tuesday asked Clooney to step into the infamous Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, including 31 members of the Philippine media.
Colmenares said he believes the international lawyer could boost the early resolution of the case that involved a powerful clan of politicians in Southern Philippines.

Phl senator fears of climate change impact

PHILIPPINE Senator Loren Legarda on Tuesday renewed her call for greater climate change action, particularly significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as she expressed alarm over the pronouncement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that time is running out to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius.
Legarda, the United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said the international community, all national governments, all sectors of society and all citizens of the world must unite and work double time to limit global warming to a safer two degrees Celsius because beyond that, the Earth will suffer rising seas, worsening natural hazards and extinction of many species.

Number of malnourished Filipino kids on the rise

AMID rising number of malnourished children in the country, Senator Sonny Angara has renewed his call for the establishment of a school feeding and child nutrition program in all public schools in the Philippines.
“The most effective means to combat child hunger and malnutrition is through the public school network where we could target children who belong to poorer families,” Angara said in a press statement Monday.
The senator lamented that current school feeding programs administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) are limited as these programs rely heavily on allocations from government officials and agencies or donations from private individuals and corporations.
According to the 2013 National Nutrition Survey, 20 percent of Filipino children aged 0 to 5 are underweight while 30 percent are stunted or too short for their age.

E-cigarettes not risk-free, says Phl lawmaker

A PHILIPPINE lawmaker said he has filed a bill regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale, importation and use of electronic cigarettes as one of the new means to overcome tobacco addiction, but pointed out they are not completely risk-free.
In a statement released Sunday, Parañaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez said e-cigarettes are not completely risk-free because it remains a source of nicotine, which is known to be an addictive substance.
“Although it may be safer than a cigarette or tobacco, because it does not produce real smoke as a very dangerous by-product of the latter, the long-term effects of vaping e-cigarettes are still not guaranteed to be completely safe,” Olivarez said.
He added: “E-cigarettes were developed to provide tobacco or cigarette users a smoke-free source of nicotine, which of course should not be left as it is. Although arguably it is safer than a regular cigarette, the fact that it still induces substance dependence means that it nonetheless needs to be regulated.”