DOH pushes for P90 excise tax on tobacco products

Marje Pelayo   •   November 6, 2018   •   3446

 

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 orders public hospital to increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — One after the other, major hospitals in Metro Manila last week declared full capacity of its designated beds for COVID-19 patients.

According to their respective statements, the hospitals fear that operations would collapse with the daily surge of COVID-19 patients.

Thus, the Department of Health (DOH) has required all public hospitals to increase their bed capacity to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.

“ [For] public hospitals, we require them to allocate 30 percent of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Heath Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Kapag nag-surge ang cases, 50 percent [dapat], at ‘pag kailangan pa, dapat 70 percent of their bed capacity should be allocated for COVID-19 patients, [When cases surge, hospitals’ bed capacity for COVID-19 patients should be 50 percent and if necessary, 70 percent),” she added.

Private hospitals, meanwhile, are required to initially allot 20 percent of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients and if necessary, expand further to 30 percent bed capacity as dictated by the “One Hospital Command” launched by the DOH.

Under the program, an incident command system network between hospitals will be established to coordinate transfers in case one hospital can no longer accommodate incoming COVID-19 patients.

“That is our answer to this problem, the One Hospital Command. Kasi kung di magtutulong tulong bawat mga ospital both public and private in a specific locality, we will not be able to have this proper referral system,” Vergeire expalined.

Gaya ng puno na ICU ng hospital, kapag di nya maaccept ang isang pasyente, meron silang incident command system, kung saan ibabato lang nila ang pasyente, enroll the details and ang system ang maghahanap kung saan pwedeng dalin among all of the hospitals in NCR,” she added.

The official noted that due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, government hospitals like Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Heart Center and other hospitals for specific specialization also have been accepting COVID-19 patients in response to the demand after major hospitals declared full bed capacity. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Philippines eyes 30,000 daily COVID-19 tests by end of May

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020

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)

DOH agrees with FDA decision to ban Dengvaxia in Phl

Maris Federez   •   August 22, 2019

A Filipino nurse prepares to administer an anti-dengue vaccine during a nationwide vaccination at a school in the flood-prone city of Marikina, east of Manila, Philippines, 04 April 2016. (Photoville International / FILE)

The Department of Health (DOH) has rejected the request of Sanofi Pasteur to overturn the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of Dengvaxia vaccine in the Philippines.

With this, the DOH approved the ruling of the FDA to permanently revoke the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia for Sanofi’s failure to submit the necessary post-approval requirements.

“The decision concerns Sanofi’s complete disregard of FDA regulations, which were precisely put in place by law to ensure safety,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

Although Sanofi was able to submit the first two versions of its risk management plans (RMP), the pharmaceutical company failed to submit the third and final version of the plan.

The DOH said, however, that Sanofi may apply for a new certificate of product registration (CPR) for Dengvaxia but this must be in accordance with the FDA regulations.

“Given that Dengvaxia is an innovative drug, the importance of complying with these post-marketing commitments is critical to public safety,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the department has assured that it continues to address the increasing cases of dengue in the country. /mbmf

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