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
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to achieve 30,000 daily tests for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by the end of the month as it works to ramp up the country’s testing capacity.
The DOH set the target after it finally attained its first target to conduct 8,000 COVID-19 tests in a day.
On Sunday, May 10, the agency reported it has conducted 8,637 tests in one day. This is, however, 10 days past its target date of April 30.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the tests were done on 158,176 unique individuals.
She explained that one of the causes of the delay was the slow processing of samples after the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) had to scale down its operations in April when over 40 of its medical staff contracted COVID-19.
The RITM has since returned to normal operations after most of its personnel recovered from the disease.
So far, the Philippines has 26 accredited laboratories capable of detecting the strain of coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
Vergeire said they are eyeing to open additional testing facilities to reach its target of 30,000 daily tests.
This way, the country will be able to improve efforts on contact tracing, isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients to effectively curb the spread of the disease.
“Hindi pa po tapos ang laban ng World War C (COVID-19) sa bawa’t bagong impormasyon bawa’t bagong teknolohiyang nadidiskubre upang malabanan ang COVID-19 tayo’y dapat maging manatiling alerto dahil ang bawa’t bagay na nagagawa natin ay mayron buhay na mailigtas,” Vergeire said.
To date, the Philippines has recorded 11,086 confirmed coronavirus infections, with 726 deaths and 1,999 recovered patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)
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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