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DOH begins consultations for Universal Health Care law rules

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday began the public consultations for the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

The DOH said the first public consultations for regions 1, 2 and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will be held in Baguio City from June 13 to 14.

The agency said the conduct of a series of public forums across the country aims to make the process of drafting the IRR inclusive and consultative.

“We want to hear from different stakeholders most especially the public because it is truly the Filipino people who will benefit from the UHC,” the DOH said in a statement posted on Twitter.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the UHC into law last February 20.

The law makes all Filipinos members of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), either as direct or indirect contributors, providing immediate eligibility and access to preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care for medical and emergency health services.

The measure urges the private sector to help provide improved health benefit packages for Filipinos to reduce their expenses.

The DOH has been given 180 days to outline and complete the law’s implementing guidelines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they are now moving to fast track the implementation of the UHC law.

“It is a big undertaking and we’re now laying the groundwork for the sustainability and effectiveness of this reform that aims to address a number of gaps in our health system,” Duque said.

The DOH said the current draft of the IRR was put together with the help of various stakeholders and representatives from the public and private sector.

The agency said the public consultation for Visayas and Mindanao areas will be announced in the coming weeks through DOH official social media accounts.

The DOH earlier expressed confidence it will be able to finish the draft before the 180 days and the law’s implementing rules will be available by July or August this year.

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Online selling of prescription drugs not allowed by law – DOH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, June 10th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Social media have become a popular platform for online selling of almost everything – from shoes, clothes, gadgets, machines, food, even health supplements and prescription medicines.

A concerned netizen posted on social media how easy it was for her to order prescription medicines from an online store and pay the amount at any payment center.

The UNTV News Team checked on the online pharmacy which the netizen mentioned and what other prescription medicines were available for purchase.

The online pharmacy was still open but the prices of medicines were no longer posted.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), selling prescription drugs online is not allowed and may incur penalties under the law.

“Hindi pwede iyang antibiotics sa Lazada (Antibiotics are not allowed on Lazada). That is a violation of our Generics law and Cheaper Medicines Act,” noted Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Prescription is a must. It is a requirement. You cannot have medicines, antibiotics delivered through Lazada as if it were an ordinary item.  We will file a case against Lazada if it is doing that,” Duque added.

The Department Secretary said if antibiotics would be made easily available on online shops, cases of anti-microbial resistance might soon get out of hand.

In a World Health Organization (WHO) report, seven thousand individuals die every year across the globe due to anti-microbial resistance or AMR.

AMR happens when a certain drug is no longer effective to fight or destroy microbes or parasite inside the human body due to over dosage or unprescribed intake of antibiotics.

For this reason, the DOH reminds the public to religiously follow the doctor’s prescription of a certain anti-biotics to benefit from it.

In line with this issue, the DOH will conduct its own investigation on reports about prescription drugs being sold online.

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Rules on use of e-cigarette, vapes out next week – DOH

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An exhibitor staff member uses an electronic cigarette at Beijing International Vapor Distribution Alliance Expo (VAPE CHINA EXPO) in Beijing, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to release an order detailing the regulations on the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vapes next week, a health official said on Wednesday.

Health Assistant Secretary Atty. Charade Mercado-Grande said in a press briefing that the DOH’s Executive Department is poised to sign the order which may be released in the first week of June.

The move follows the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to regulate or ban the use of e-cigarettes and related products once it is proven that these also contain cancer-causing chemicals that are found in traditional cigarettes.

“There’s no total ban, but more of regulation. That’s what we will do for now,” Mercado-Grande said.

The DOH explained that they are still in the process of examining all the chemicals used in e-cigarettes and vapes before implementing a total market ban.  

“I’ll check on the classification if it is considered as pharmaceutical or what is the specific qualifications of the chemicals but definitely anything that we put in our body especially when there are studies that prove they are harmful to health, the DOH must do protective measures,” Mercado-Grande said.

The Health department further stated they are now working with the Department of Finance (DOF) for the proposed imposition of tax on e-cigarettes and vapes.

But DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua admitted that gathering data for the proposal is a bit of a challenge as the country has no existing policy about its use.

“This is a less regulated market and unlike cigarettes outside the factory, there is the BIR that monitors. Because excise works like this: When a product goes out of the factory, pay tax. These are largely imported, so we are working to understand the market better,” he said.

Chua said they are working to propose to the Senate to include e-cigarettes and related devices among the products on which to impose excise tax.

“Eventually, we will see a shifting from the traditional cigarette to the e-cigarette and the moment. We determine the health risk. We will, of course, propose the appropriate tax so I think the funding will continue,” he said.

Based on their proposal, the funds expected to be collected from the additional tax will be used to finance the implementation of the government’s Universal Health Care program. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Keep protected from ‘WILD’ diseases this rainy season – DOH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Filipinos wade in a flooded street during a downpour in Quezon City, Philippines. (Ritchie Tongo/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public to keep being protected from ‘WILD’ diseases associated with the rainy weather.

‘WILD’ stands for water-borne diseases, influenza, leptospirosis, and dengue.

Examples of water-borne diseases are cholera and typhoid fever which can be contracted from contaminated water or spoiled food.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes watery diarrhea, dehydration or death when untreated.

Typhoid fever, on the other hand, is a serious disease with symptoms include lasting high fevers, weakness, headache and stomach pains even loss of appetite.

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a viral infection that usually attacks the respiratory system. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and colds, sneezing and muscle pains. It is common due to a sudden drop in temperature or high humidity level.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection present in wild and domesticated rodents and can infect both animals and humans. People with open wounds contract the disease by wading through bodies of water or floodwater usually contaminated by the rodents’ urine.

The DOH said those who regularly wade in floodwater need to be protected from leptospirosis by taking antibiotic medications on doctor’s prescription.

Meanwhile, the DOH records show that from January 1 to May 11 this year, the number of dengue cases rose to more than 74,000.

The DOH expects this number to rise this year during the onset of the rainy season.

“Iyong mga hospitals natin ready na iyan kapag ganitong tag-ulan,” Domingo said.

(Our hospitals are all set for the rainy season.)

“We have dengue lanes. Ina-activate na natin iyan at siyempre iyong mga gamot natin na naka- stock hindi lang para sa dengue, para sa leptospirosis din. Pagdating ng unang baha natin ito usually iyong most dangerous,” he added.

(We have activated that and of course, we have medicines on stock not only for dengue but for leptospirosis as well. The first flood is usually the most dangerous.)

The Health Department reminds the public to clear the surroundings with stagnant water containers which can be breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

“Prevention pa rin ang key sa dengue,” the undersecretary said.

(Prevention is still the key with dengue.)

“We have to protect the children. Kapag magpapasukan na, sana po pasuotin ng damit na protektado sila – pantalon, mga longsleeves. Lagyan ng insect repellant to make sure na hindi makagat ang mga bata during the day,” he said.

(When classes begin, let your children wear protective clothes – long pants and long sleeves. Apply insect repellant to make sure they are protected from (mosquito) bites during the day.)

The DOH also reminds the public not to take antibiotics in cases of fever, cough and colds to prevent the body from developing antimicrobial resistance or the body’s rejection of the effects of medication.

“Bawal iyon. Ang pag- inom po ng maling antiibiotic at pag- take ninyo ng hindi tamang schedule ay maaring maging sanhi para magkaroon tayo ng antimicrobial resistance,” Domingo warned.

(That’s not allowed. Taking the wrong antibiotic or medications out of schedule can develop antimicrobial resistance.)

“Ito is one of the challenges na nakikita natin hindi lang sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong mundo in the next few years,” he added.

(This is one of the challenges that we foresee not only in the Philippines but across the globe in the next few years.)

According to the DOH, it is still best to consult a doctor when experiencing the symptoms of the mentioned diseases in order to get and apply proper health remedy.

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