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DOH calls for depression awareness to help save lives

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Depression photo (REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao)


MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos should extend support to their friends and loved ones with suicidal tendencies and avoid trivializing mental disorders.

According to the Department of Health (DOH,) suicide is preventable as long as one does not dismiss a person’s depression. The agency explained that depression is a period of sadness that lasts for two weeks and more which causes a person to lose interest in activities once enjoyed.

Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle said a depressed person would also prefer to be left alone and have thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

“Almost 90+ percent, may warning signs iyan (have warning signs)…If people start to withdraw from the usual activity or always isolating themselves or even expressing the thought. So it is very important na iyong (that the) companion or family member be aware na ito (that these are) warning signs ng (of) suicide ito,” said Valle

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 800,000 people die yearly from suicide worldwide. It is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 years old.

In the Philippines, more than 2,500 suicide deaths were recorded in 2012 and the DOH is working to prevent this from increasing by opening a hope or suicide hotline.

Since its launch in 2016, they received more than 7,000 calls from depressed persons and 44% of them belong to the age group 13 to 29 years old.

DOH also advised the public to seek help and intervention for people who have signs of depression and history of suicide attempts.

The appeal comes after the high-profile deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, both of whom have battled depression prior to their deaths.

“It’s a complex issue but it is preventable…It’s really a sad thing, you think people have everything but if you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss the warning signs,” said Valle.

As of now, the agency continues to monitor “Hopeline” to check the callers’ condition and prevent any suicide attempts. – Aiko Miguel

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DOH, health advocates push for higher tax on cigarettes

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and several health advocates are calling on the  immediate passage of a measure that would increase the taxes on cigarettes.

No less than Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led a forum on Friday (October 12) to campaign and push the Senate Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Senator Sonny Angara to increase the amount of excise tax on cigarette items.

Duque emphasized that the proposal would help minimize the number of smokers and patients who fall ill and die because of smoking cigarettes.

“The ultimate goal of the DOH is understanding that the Sin Tax law must proceed with the angle of health and

The group urges Senate to consider a P60.00 or P90.00 in tax to each pack of cigarettes.

Based on a prior study on the impact of the measure, around one to two million smokers would be encouraged to quit once the proposal becomes a law.

“Kapag tumaas kasi ang presyo siempre magkakaroon iyan ng impact sa demand, sa consumption at magkakaroon din iyan ng impact sa number of smokers,” Duque said.

The Health Secretary already forwarded a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte requesting him to certify as urgent the proposed increase in excise tax on cigarettes.

Aside from health reasons, the DOH believes that the additional tax on cigarettes will help support the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Bill once it is enacted into law. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Joan Nano.)

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Sexual harassment, abuse tied to real health effects

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2018

A woman holds her head in a file photo. REUTERS/File

(Reuters Health) – Sexual harassment and sexual abuse occur frequently and can harm physical and mental health, according to two studies from the U.S. and Europe published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In one study, roughly 1 in 5 Pittsburgh-area women said they had been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. These women were two to three times more likely to have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, poor sleep, depression or anxiety.

In the other study, 70 percent of male and female physicians in Berlin, Germany, said they had experienced sexual harassment or misconduct at work.

“Experiences of sexual harassment and sexual abuse, unfortunately, are not uncommon,” said Rebecca Thurston, director of the women’s behavioral health laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “And these experiences have implications for not only job performance and quality of life, but also for mental and physical health.”

Among the 304 women aged 40 to 60 who participated in Thurston’s study, 19 percent said they had been sexually harassed at work and 23 percent said they had been sexually assaulted.

These percentages are lower than what’s been reported nationally, possibly because some women in the study did not work outside the home, Thurston said. The women were originally recruited for a study of hot flashes and atherosclerosis.

Thurston’s team found that compared to women who had not been sexually harassed, women who had were 2.36 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 89 percent more likely to have poor sleep. In newer findings presented this week at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society in San Diego, Thurston and colleagues reported that the likelihood of having high triglycerides was three times higher in sexually harassed women.

Thurston suspects that being harassed kicks off changes in stress hormone levels, which ultimately impact blood pressure, triglycerides and sleep patterns.

Similar results were seen among women who said they’d been sexually assaulted. They were 2.86 times more likely to have clinical depression, 2.26 times more likely to have clinical anxiety and 2.15 times more likely to have poor sleep.

Dr. Mayumi Okuda, a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, isn’t surprised by the findings. Research in children “shows that adverse childhood experiences are connected to so many things, such as high blood pressure, cancer, obesity,” said Okuda. “This shows that even adults will experience negative health consequences.”

The German survey of 737 physicians found 62 percent of men and 76 percent of women had experienced some sort of sexual harassment in the workplace. While the idea of men being harassed may be surprising, certain types of conversations can make men very uncomfortable, said senior researcher Dr. Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, a professor and chair of Gender in Primary and Transmural Care at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

For men, “the vulgar talk has to be specifically addressed towards you or an immediate bystander,” Oertelt-Prigione said in an email. “The question in the questionnaire explicitly addressed this directionality. We are not talking about somebody telling a general vulgar joke to a group of colleagues.”

Sexual harassment “is an issue for anyone in the workplace,” Oertelt-Prigione said. It flourishes in workplaces where there is a strong formal hierarchy, “where orders are generally given top-down with little opportunity for participation from employees,” Oertelt-Prigione explained.

Lori Post, who wasn’t involved in either study, suspects that if the questionnaire had been worded differently, Oertelt-Prigione’s study would have found an even higher prevalence of sexual harassment. “I believe the rate is closer to 100 percent,” said Post, who is director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “The difference is in how often and how bad it is.”

Post also believes Thurston’s harassment numbers might have been higher if the Pittsburgh team had not excluded women with heart disease from the study, since heart disease could be correlated with harassment.

The solution to health problems related to harassment and abuse is to prevent these behaviors from happening in the first place, Okuda said. “There has to be a cultural shift away from condoning this kind of behavior.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2xYHM9Q and bit.ly/2y6KQA6 JAMA Internal Medicine, online October 3, 2018.

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DOH warns of water-borne diseases with the onset of Typhoon Ompong

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2018


File photo: A man wades in floodwater after a strong typhoon inundated parts of Bulacan province.


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has raised a code white alert in anticipation of disease outbreaks in areas affected by Typhoon Ompong.

The potential super typhoon is expected to cause flooding. In such situations, the DOH advises parents to monitor their children and bar them from playing, wading, or swimming in floodwater where water-borne diseases usually lurk.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo explained that aside from leptospirosis, there are other diseases that people can acquire from exposure to rain and floodwater, starting with the most common fever and flu followed by dengue, diarrhea and cholera.

The health official added that floodwater is obviously contaminated with bacteria and viruses that can be harmful and fatal once they enter the human body.

“Pakiusap namin sa mga magulang, kasi po kapag talagang nagtampisaw ang bata sa tubig na marumi, ang lahat ng sakit ay nandoon na. Mayroong bacteria, mayroong fungus, may virus katulad ng leptospirosis,” he said.

Domingo referred in particular to areas near water drainage, toilets, and sewage systems.

Hindi natin alam kung saan nangagaling ang tubig. Kasama na po iyong dumi galing sa imburnal, sa kalye at kapag nainom pa ng bata ito habang nagswi- swimming siya at naglalaro doon, papasok pa sa katawan niya. Napakarami pong sakit na makukuha sa marumuning tubig,” he warned.

The health official advises households to always store clean water especially during the onslaught of a typhoon for domestic use and more importantly for drinking.

“Ang water supply natin maaring ma-contaminate iyong pinagkukuhanan ng tubig lalo na iyong mga gagamitin na inumin or gagamiting pantimpla ng halimbawa ipapainom sa mga bata. Common din ang mga sakit na gastroenteritis, hepatitis at may mga mas grabe pa katulad ng typhoid (fever) at cholera,” Domingo warned.

The DOH reminds the public to immediately bring to the nearest hospital or health center anyone who is experiencing severe diarrhea or loose bowel movement of up to four times a day to prevent dehydration.

The agency has secured enough supply of oral re-hydration solution in rural health units nationwide. – Marje Pelayo (with a report from Aiko Miguel)


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