MANILA, Philippines – Measles cases in the country have already reached to more than 17,000 from January to November this year.
Record shows a staggering increase of 367% as compared to the same period in 2017.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the increase is due to the public’s lack of trust and confidence in the government’s immunization programs stemming from the Dengvaxia controversy.
“There had been certain regions that had been affected by the continuing Dengvaxia issue, the Dengvaxia controversy…There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33% ; ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
According to the DOH, since the Dengvaxia immunization became a controversy in the country, many Filipinos now fear getting vaccinated.
Filipinos have also avoided even the trusted vaccines which had long been in use and proven effective.
This is also the reason why measles outbreak which resulted in six death cases was recorded in Zamboanga last February.
In October this year, measles cases in Bicol have also increased to 300%.
On Wednesday (November 28), 18 death cases were recorded in Sarangani province bringing the total to 84 in the province alone.
Most of those affected are between the ages of 4 months to 40 years old; majority of them were females.
The DOH already created an investigating team to monitor the measles cases in Sarangani province. The cases were identified to have originated from the B’laan tribe where vaccination is never practiced.
According to the Duque, these areas are also conflict- affected which is the reason why health services cannot easily reach the residents.
“It’s also NPA-infested and so this is really one of the challenges under the universal health care. This is something that we need to prioritize,” Duque said.
Meanwhile, more than 200 children were immunized in the affected areas to prevent them from being infected with measles.
Common signs and symptoms for suspected measles typically include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat followed by a rash that spread all over the body. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
DOH pushes for P90 excise tax on tobacco products
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) calls on Congress for the passage of the proposed P90 tobacco tax.
Once the bill passes into law, a current P40 to P50-peso cigarette pack will have an additional P90, which will bring it to P130 to P140 per pack.
The DOH believes that raising tobacco taxes could save the lives of many Filipinos from getting sick due to cigarette smoking.
“Estimates show that if tobacco taxes are pegged at P90, around 1 million tobacco-attributable deaths could be averted. Smoking prevalence could also be reduced from 21. 6% of the population down to a target of 15.7%,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
Aside from averting tobacco-attributable deaths in the country, this could also add to the funding gap for the Universal Health Care Bill.
Both houses of Congress have passed the UHC bill in the third reading.
The bicameral conference is set to deliberate and merge the two versions.
Once the UHC bill passes into law, P257B will be needed to fund it for its first year of implementation to give Filipinos quality health care.
The funding gap of P164 billion will be coming from the sin tax collection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), establishing a universal health care in the Philippines is a win-win solution
“We will save lives to through the UHC law but also there will be economic returns for the population. We know that for every dollar every country invests into UHC law, there will be 140 percent return in economy, to savings and to economic development,” said WHO country representative Dr. Gundo Weiler.
Meanwhile, 67 percent Filipinos approved the increased tobacco tax based on the Pulse Asia “Ulat ng Bayan” survey last September.
Respondents were smokers, former smokers and relatives of smokers
“This means that 2 out of 3 Filipinos agree that cigarette taxes should be increased. The survey also highlighted that 64 percent will vote for electoral candidates who will endorse higher taxes for tobacco products,” Duque explained.
The survey results also showed that Filipinos are more inclined to consider candidates in the upcoming elections who would push for Filipinos’ health particularly those who support the increased tobacco tax in the country. – Aiko Miguel
DOH calls on parents to bar minors from using vapes
FILE PHOTO: Vaping
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) calls on parents to prohibit their teenagers from using vapes or e-cigarettes.
This is in line with the recent incident involving a 17-year-old who was hospitalized after using a second hand vape that exploded and damaged his face.
The boy was rushed to East Avenue Medical Center on October 30.
Specifically, the attending physician said the incident damaged the boy’s lips, tongue and some parts of his face. There was also internal bleeding in his eyelids due to the impact.
“The patient that had an explosion was a 17-year-old. We limit the selling of cigarettes to minors… but 17-year-olds obviously can access these vaping liquids and the juice that they call it and the items, the delivery system that they buy online and they have to be regulated,” said DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
The DOH together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will launch an in-depth investigation into the incident in order to come up with a more concrete regulation on the use of vapes. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
DOH warns public of diseases prevailing during typhoon season
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) as always, reminds the public, especially parents, to monitor their children and bar them from wading through flood water because of water-borne diseases associated with the typhoon season.
Aside from leptospirosis, some diseases that can be fatal during rainy season include dengue, influenza, typhoid fever and cholera.
“Pakiusap namin sa mga magulang na kasi po kapag talagang nagtampisaw ang bata sa tubig na marumi lahat ng sakit nandoon na, mayroong bacteria, mayroong fungus, may virus katulad ng leptospirosis,” said DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo.
Domingo said flood water contains high level of pollutants especially contaminated water coming from sewage, toilets and canals.
“Hindi natin alam saan nanggaling iyong tubig na iyan kasama na po iyong dumi galing sa imburnal, kasama na po ang dumi sa kalye at kapag nainom pa siyempre ng bata ito habang nagswi- swimming siya at naglalaro, doon papasok pa sa katawan niya. Napakarami pong sakit na makukuha sa maruning tubig at hindi dapat gawing laruan ng mga bata,” Domingo added.
The health official said children who swim in flood water may possibly drink contaminated water which may result in diarrhea or cholera.
What is important, Domingo said, is for households to store clean water supply for drinking and domestic use to prevent diseases.
“Water supply natin maaring ma- contaminate iyong pinagkukuhanan ng tubig lalo na iyong mga gagamitin na inumin or gagamiting sa pantimpla ng halimbawa ipapainom sa mga bata. Common din ang mga sakit na gastroenteritis, hepatitis at may mga mas grabe pa katulad ng typhoid at cholera,” he said.
The DOH said a bowel movement of more than four times a day may not be a normal diarrhea, therefore the person should seek medical attention immediately to avoid dehydration.
Households should also maintain enough supply of first aid medicines for common colds and fever, according to Domingo. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)