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DOH pushes for P90 excise tax on tobacco products

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

 

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

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Police, military hospitals on standby amid national dengue alert

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has tapped the service of military hospitals amid following the declaration of national dengue alert.

According to DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo, they have asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to be on standby in case the number of dengue cases increases beyond government hospitals’ capacity.

“Ang PNP at ang AFP natin may mga hospitals din naman sila and we have to network with them in case na talagang dumami ang pasyente (The PNP and the AFP also have hospitals and we have to network with them in case the number of patients increases),” Domingo said.

“Halimbawa may mga lugar na malayo sa amin tapos sila may hospital maari kaming makipagtulungan para ma- admit din ang mga pasyente sa mga hospitals nila (There are certain areas beyond our reach where military hospitals are located. We can ask for help to admit the patients there in their hospitals),” he added.

On Wednesday (July 17), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III met with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Health Cluster to discuss measures to curb the sudden rise of dengue infections in the country.

The DOH is in cooperation with other agencies like the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in implementing actions in schools to prevent dengue, in educating the public on the dangers of dengue infection, and in coordinating with the local government units in destroying potential breeding grounds of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in different areas in the country.

“Kailangan talaga sa schools maglinis tayo, ma- educate natin iyong children at iyong parents kung paano iyong dapat natin gawin to prevent itong dengue at tsaka meron tayong changes sa mga patakaran sa school, (We need to have regularly clean up drive in schools and we need to educate the children and the parents on what to do to prevent dengue. Also, we have changes in school regulations,)” the DOH Spokesperson said.

Likewise, among the agencies’ action plans include designation of additional hospital rooms for dengue patients through Philippine Red Cross and the construction of extra hospital tents which can be used for emergency.

Domingo stressed the need to always be alert in providing the medical needs of dengue patients in order to prevent further deaths caused by dengue infection this year.

The DOH advises households to dispose stagnant water and dirty containers where dengue mosquitoes may breed.

Install protections such as window and door screens.

Likewise, do not let your child play or come near areas where mosquitoes are breeding.

Maganda pa rin talaga naka- pantalon at long sleeves ang mga bata para hindi siya makakagat ng lamok (It is better to have your child wear long pants and long sleeves to prevent mosquito bites),” Domingo advised.

The DOH, as always, reminds the public to immediately bring the patient to the nearest hospital if symptoms of dengue manifest.

The agency can be reached through the DOH hotline numbers 711-1001 and 711-1002 for inquiry about dengue. — with reports from Aiko Miguel

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Dengue cases in Zamboanga Peninsula up by 81%

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019

Dengue cases in Zamboanga Peninsula rose to 81 percent, according to the Department of Health (DOH) 9. Cases had reached 1,743 from January 1 to March 7, 2019.

Based on the report of the DOH 9, Zamboanga City reported 719 dengue cases, a 213% increase compared to the same period last year which recorded 230 cases. Zamboanga del Norte, on the other hand, recorded 499 cases which is a 222 percent increase from last year’s 155 cases.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga Sibugay recorded 175 dengue cases; Isabela City , Basilan, 99 cases; and Zamboanga Del Sur with 251.

READ: DOH: even a little water can serve as breeding ground for mosquitoes

The DOH reminds residents to implement the 4-S campaign against dengue and work on controlling the mosquito population.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III previously said, “The first step to prevent dengue is within our homes. It is important to remove any space or container that can hold unnecessary stagnant water which may become breeding sites for mosquitoes.”—Aileen Cerrudo

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DOH calls for increased awareness vs. depression after Razorback drummer’s suicide

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Razorback drummer Brian Velasco. | Courtesy: Brian Velasco FB

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday (January 17) issued a statement calling on the public to help spread awareness against depression following the apparent suicide of drummer Brian Velasco of the ‘90s hard rock band, Razorback.

The 41-year-old drummer fell to his death on Wednesday (January 16) from the 34th floor roof deck of the City Land Tower in Vito Cruz, Malate, Manila, according to a report from Malate Police Station.

He broadcasted his suicide live on Facebook which went viral on social media.

The DOH in its statement calls on the public “to stop sharing the tragic video” in respect to the grieving family.

Instead, the department encourages the public “to start talking about depression to end the stigma surrounding mental health because when left unattended, it (depression) can lead to suicide.”

According to the DOH, about 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorder with suicide rate higher in males at 2.5 and 1.7 females per 100,000.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said 800,000 people die every year due to suicide and it is considered the second leading cause of death among individuals age 15 to 49 years old in the world.

The DOH encourages anyone who is suffering from depression or in need of help, to report to the agency’s 24-hour suicide prevention hotline numbers (02) 804-4673; 0917-5584673 or send a SMS to 2919 for globe and TM subscribers. — Marje Pelayo

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