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Cigarette prices to increase more with passage of Universal Health Care Bill – DOH

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2018


A man taps ashes off his cigarette into an ashtray filled with cigarette. | REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

MANILA, Philippines – The prices of cigarettes are seen to go up further as higher tariffs are set to be imposed on tobacco products to fund the Universal Health Care Bill, which aims to provide Filipinos with access to health services.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the increase in tobacco prices is due to the new round of sin taxes which will be on top of the hikes under the first package of the Tax Reform Law.

The tax hikes will be a major source of funding once The Universal Health Care Law is enacted. Over P135B fund is needed for the first year of its implementation and a total of P256B for the fourth year.

“Eighty-five percent (85%) of the incremental proceeds will go to health and 80% of the 85% share of the health sector doon pupunta sa PhilHealth at iyon namang bente porsyento ay para mapondohan ang ating mga health facilities enhancement program,” Duque explained.

Though the amount of the price increase still depends on the decision of the lawmakers, Secretary Duque believes this is a win-win solution for the health of the Filipinos.

He also supports Senator Jv Ejercito’s proposal to hike cigarette prices to P90.00 per pack. If the Congress approves the bill, the government will collect more revenue compared to the current P35.00 price per pack in 2019.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng proceeds po ng about P45B. Malaking bahagi nito mapupunta sa pagpondo ng PhilHealth para doon po sa mahihirap na walang kakayahang magbayad ng kanilang pagiging miyembro,” he added.

The health official believes this move would also save more lives and reduce the number of smokers. It would also save the government billions of pesos in treating sick Filipino smokers.

Our target is to really bring it down to the 14% level of smoking prevalence from a high of 21.47% pero iyang 21. 47% bumaba na rin iyan kasi nagkaroon na rin tayo ng sin tax,” he concluded. F

The World Health Organization has reported that 17 Filipinos are dying every hour due to smoking.- Aiko Miguel / UNTV News and Rescue

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DOH warns pharmacists selling high-priced lepto drug Doxycycline

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, August 13th, 2018

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III


MARIKINA CITY, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned pharmacies that are selling high-priced leptospirosis medicine Doxycycline.

Duque stressed that the price of doxycycline drug ranges from P10.00 to P30.00 depending on brand. Any amount higher than that is considered overpriced and pharmacies imposing unauthorized markup will be ordered closed.

“Ang mga botlika huwag pong samantalahin ang panahon kung kailan mataas ang pangangailangan sa mga gamot. Huwag pong itaas ang presyo at may batas po kayong nilalabag. Pwede po kayong makasuhan,” Duque warned.

The Health Secretary assured, however, that the agency has enough supply of doxycycline which patients can avail for free in local health centers.

On Monday (August 13), Duque personally checked on the condition of evacuees in Bagong Silangan in Quezon City and in Malanday Elementary School in Marikina City where most of the monsoon-hit families stay.

The DOH distributed an additional 25,000 tablets of Doxycycline to local government units of Marikina City for prevention from leptospirosis infection.

Aside from doxycycline, the DOH also donated boxes of assorted medicines against rainy day diseases such as diarrhea, fungal infection, and influenza.

To date, the agency has already distributed about P1.35M worth of medicine and medical supplies to calamity-hit areas such as San Juan City, Marikina City, and Rizal, while the fund is ready for release, should LGUs in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Ilocos Region, all affected by the monsoon rains, request for it.

All DOH-accredited hospitals are also on code white alert to immediately address emergency situations amid the inclement weather. – Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

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DOH declares leptospirosis outbreak in 18 barangays in Metro Manila

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III formally declared Thursday (July 5) an outbreak of leptospirosis in several barangays in Metro Manila.

These barangays are Barangays Bagbag (3 cases); Silangan (5 cases); Batasan Hills (9 cases); Commonwealth (7 cases); Novaliches Proper (4 cases); Payatas (5 cases); Pinyahan (3 cases); and Vasra (4 cases) in Quezon City; Lower Bicutan (5 cases); Maharlika Village (3 cases); Signal Village (4 cases); and Western Bicutan (4 cases) in Taguig City; Barangay Pinagbuhatan (4 cases) in Pasig City; BF Homes (3 cases) and San Dionisio (3 cases) in Paranaque City; Barangay North Bay Blvd. South (3 cases) in Navotas City; Barangay Addition Hills (3 cases) in Mandaluyong City; and barangay Concepcion (3 cases) in Malabon City.

DOH said there was a significant increase in the number of leptospirosis cases in the said areas with 105 cases in just one month from June 10 to July 3, 2018. This is way higher than 76 cases during the same period last year.

The agency added that the figure this year surpassed the combined number of cases from 2013 to 2017 by 38 percent.

“It has breached what is known as the epidemic threshold. Epidemic threshold means that the average incidence or number of cases over the last five years has been exceeded by the number of cases that we have reported,” Duque explained.

DOH explained that while the public’s common knowledge of leptospirosis is that which acquired from wading through floodwater, there are other means that the leptospira bacteria may penetrate the body other than an open wound.

“Ang leptospirosis is not only transmitted through rats. Pwede siya sa dogs, sa farm, sa mga cattle. Kung nag-aalaga ka ng baboy, pwede ring sa baboy makuha mo ang lepto. Hindi rin kailangan na although very common iyong sa flood water but pwede rin kahit wala sa flood at meron diyan infected na animal, umihi at binungkal mo iyong lupa pwedeng iyong aerosole noon na may infection pwede kang magkasakit ng Lepto.,” warned Dr. Ferchito Avelino, Director 4 of DOH’s  Epidemiology Bureau.

To date, leptospirosis cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) has soared to 368 and 52 recorded deaths.

DOH  advised immediate medical consultation for individuals showing symptoms of leptospirosis infection such as fever, muscle pain, redness of the eyes, yellowing of the skin, urine discoloration, cough, vomiting and diarrhea, — Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

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Duque slams Garin over barangay health station mess

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin (left) and Incumbent Health secretary Francisco Duque III (right)


PASAY CITY, Philippines – Former Health Secretary Janette Garin stressed that the worsening state of healthcare facilities in the country during her term prompted the construction of barangay health stations (BHS).

Garin argued that during those times, around 20,000 BHS were to address the health care needs of communities.

She blamed her successors in the Department of Health (DOH) for the failure of the project, an accusation that the current Health Secretary dismissed.

“The leadership decision of the succeeding secretaries not to support the project if ever this is true might have led to the unsuccessful completion of the project,” Garin said during Wednesday’s (July 4) Senate inquiry on the BHS anomaly.

Secretary Francisco Duque III was quick to react saying they were just recipients of the flaws in management of previous DOH heads.

 “We are at the receiving ends all of these. We are trying to fix the mess because the planning was just I think it’s very deficient and very defective to begin with,” he argued.

The issue stemmed from a 2017 audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) which revealed irregularities in the planning and construction of 5,700 BHS in public schools from 2015 to 2016 specifically the validation of BHS locations and the implementation of the project despite lack of proper guidelines.


A barangay health station located inside Barangay Balumbato Elementary School in Quezon City


Aside from constant delays, the BHS project was not completed.

Senators expressed dismay since the fund used for the BHS project came from DOH’s savings in December 2015 coinciding with the release of the special allotment order (SARO) for Dengvaxia.

“Does this become a proactive habit na ire-realign, gagamitin ang savings kapag alam ninyong hindi gagamitin (Does this become a proactive habit, the realignment of savings when you know that it is not going to be used)?” questioned Senator JV Ejercito, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

Garin clarified that the equipment procured during her time was only capable of conducting small check ups, in defense to the accusation that sets of medical equipment were procured even prior to the construction of BHS.

For its part, J Bros Construction Corporation as the project’s contractor claimed that the project’s implementation lacked proper guidance that’s why it was terminated.

“Not only that they do not know about the project. Sometimes the sites are not even available. There’s no space in the school or they have issues,” revealed J Bros’ Board Member Atty. Julieanne Jorge.

During the hearing, Garin dared Duque to challenge her in court over the BHS mess. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo


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