DOH, health advocates push for higher tax on cigarettes

Marje Pelayo   •   October 12, 2018   •   4232

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.)

DOH urges parents to avail of free polio, measles, rubella vaccination until Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated against common but highly contagious viral diseases such as measles, polio, and rubella.

The DOH is constantly promoting the government’s Measles-Rubella and Oral Polio Vaccination Supplemental Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA) and its related activities which are in their second phase.

The said immunization program launched on February 1, covers regions in both Luzon and Visayas and is scheduled to run until February 28.

Reports from the agency revealed that as February 21 this year,  73% (3,721,186 children) of nationwide targets have been vaccinated against measles and rubella.

Meanwhile, 72.9% (3,483,423 children) have been inoculated against polio. 

As of February 21, the target number of children left to be vaccinated remains above 1.3 million for measles and rubella vaccine and 1.2 million for oral polio vaccine. 

With only four days left in the immunization program, the DOH urges all parents and guardians of children to participate in the free immunization program. 

“We can decrease the prevalence of cases of measles, rubella, and polio through vaccination. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective for over 40 years, and parents need not have second thoughts,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Above all, we can prevent unnecessary deaths that are caused by these illnesses. This is why we have tirelessly been urging our mothers to have their children vaccinated,” he added.

The DOH, together with development partners and concerned local government units, is immensely determined to double down on efforts to achieve the 95% target coverage to achieve herd immunity from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, rubella, and polio.

“We call on our local government units, who have better access to their constituents, to pitch in and assure our mothers that our health centers are safe places where they can get their children vaccinated. As long as we are able to comply with our minimum public health standards, as well as the protocols of the health centers, we can be protected from COVID-19,” Duque said.

DOH confirms detection of SARS-CoV-2 mutations in Central Visayas

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) along with the Philippine Genome Center confirmed the recent detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) mutation in samples from Central Visayas.

The DOH labeled the new variants as E484K and N501Y SARS-CoV-2 mutations.

The DOH clarified, however, that their data is not sufficient enough to declare that the new variants pose a huge threat to public health.

The DOH reminds the public to always observe and practice minimum health standards to prevent further mutations of coronavirus and curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Kapag dumarami ang kaso, tumataas ang chance natin na magkaroon ng mutations,” noted Dr. Alethea de Guzman, medical specialist IV of the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau.

“Kaya iyong mahalagang step natin para mapigilan, para ma- lessen iyong chance natin na magkaroon ng mga mutation at para magkaroon ng mga bagong variant is to really push our numbers to as low as the minimum number as possible,  to decrease the chance of new variants; even a variant coming from the Philippines,” she added.

The agency emphasized that not all mutations and variants have negative effects on human health.

PH logs first fatality from UK COVID-19 variant

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday (February 8) the country’s first UK- COVID-19 variant fatality.

“As to these 25 cases detected with the UK variant, we have two remaining active cases. We have one who has died and the rest, the 22 have already recovered,” confirmed Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Based on the report, the fatality was an 84-year-old male from La Trinidad, Benguet who succumbed to the disease in January.

The DOH is still investigating as to how the man contracted the virus even when he rarely went outside his residence.

“Apparenlty noong kausap natin iyong regional office namin, they said that this person never went out or seldom. Pero hindi talaga. Nandoon lang daw sa loob ng bahay, walang ibang contact,” Vergeire explained.

“So tinitingnan natin kung ano po ang source of infection. Ano pa ang ibang circumstances,” she added.

Meanwhile, the DOH is thoroughly studying two other cases of the new variant in the Philippines considering that these two never had contact with other cases with the similar variant.

Nevertheless, the DOH said there is not enough evidence yet to declare a community transmission of the said variant in the country.

“Tinitingnan natin dito sa ating current na listahan. Meron tayong dalawa na mukha tayong walang link na makita, but further investigation is still required before we can confirm this,” Vergeire said.

At present, the number of UK COVID-19 variant cases in the country remains at 25. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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