DOH wants tax on salty food products

Robie de Guzman   •   October 30, 2019   •   770

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to propose imposing additional taxes on salty food products in a bid to lower the high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

High consumption of salt is one of the causes of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, stroke and chronic respiratory illnesses. Excessive salt intake is also related to hypertension, kidney diseases and cardiovascular problems, according to the DOH.

DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Eric Domingo noted that the recommended salt intake per day for adult Filipinos is just under a teaspoon or around two grams.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said that the recommended salt intake per day should be less than five grams.

“Ang cause ng hypertension sa atin, maliban sa paninigarilyo, ay pagkain ng maalat. Dapat po isang tao, 2 grams lang per day, tayo po ang konsyumo natin 11-15 grams per day, so tayo ay 4-5 times sa mga Filipino,” Domingo said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.

High sodium intake raises blood pressure that leads to stroke and heart diseases, the two biggest causes of death and disability worldwide, according to the WHO.

In the Philippines, the DOH reported that more than 170,000 individuals die each year from heart diseases, specifically hypertension.

To curb the high incidence of these diseases and to help encourage people to eat healthy foods, the DOH is pushing for the imposition of additional taxes on products with too much salt.

Domingo cited the experience of several countries that imposed tax on unhealthy food which forced companies to adjust their product formulation.

“And it has been found in many countries that when you tax products that are unhealthy, talagang nagde-decrease kasi ang intake and the companies reformulate yung kanilang product,” he said.

The government has implemented tax on sugary drinks as well as on tobacco products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOH asks hospitals to increase bed capacity to accommodate more COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   July 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is asking hospitals across the country to increase their bed capacity to accommodate more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

This is because most major hospitals in Metro Manila are already in the danger zone or nearing full capacity due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Administrative Order No.2020-0016 states that hospitals must allot 30% bed capacity for COVID-19 cases; but currently, public hospitals are utilizing 20% bed capacity while 9% in private hospitals.

Commitment po ng mga private hospitals po na maglaan ng 20 percent ng kanilang total functional bed capacity for COVID. Nakiusap ako na kung pwedeng kung kailangan ay dagdagan pa ng 10 percent para maging 30 percent,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said. 

[It is the commitment of private hospitals to allot 20 percent of their total functional bed capacity for COVID. I asked them, if possible, to increase their capacity by 10 percent to make it 30 percent.]

Samantala ang atin pong mga pampublikong mga hospital ay atin pong pinakiusap ay yung 30 percent naman nila na allocated for COVID ay kinakailangan up to 50 percent ng kanilang bed capacity,” he added.

[Meanwhile, our private hospitals were also asked to increase bed capacity from 30 percent and make it 50 percent for COVID patients.]

At present, four major hospitals in Metro Manila have declared full capacity and can no longer accept COVID-19 patients. 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the Philippines’ problems with bed capacity for COVID-19 cases. 

WHO Active Country Rep. Dr. Rabindra Abesayinghe recommends that only the severe and critical cases who needed critical care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) be accepted to address the matter. 

“Other measures that need to be done and the government is practicing now is encouraging the management of mild cases or asymptomatic positives in so called isolation centers, rather than admitting them to hospitals,” he said. 

“Because mild or asymptomatic people don’t require the facilities available in a hospital to manage them,” he added. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Burial for COVID-19 victims allowed but should be done within 12 hours—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

Burial for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is allowed but should be done within 12 hours, according to the guidelines implemented by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We are still following our Code on Sanitation dito sa ating bansa and ang Law for Notifiable Diseases. Nakalagay dito na ang isang pasyenteng mamamatay sa infectious disease, kailangan within 12 hours mailibing natin, (We are still following our Code on Sanitation and Law for Notifiable Disease in our country. It is stated that a patient who succumbed to an infectious disease should be buried within 12 hours),” according to the statement of DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The protocols for the burial of COVID-19 victims is based on the Department Circular No. 0067 released in February.

Vergeire also said the casket should be double sealed and should not be reopened once it is closed. She added that buried remains of patients infected with the novel coronavirus shall not be exhumed for whatever reason.

The DOH said they are aware of the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths and the long queues in crematoriums. There are also reports of dwindling supply of urns. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH still allows home quarantine but under strict guidelines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) clarified that home quarantine is still allowed provided it passes strict health and safety guidelines.

DOH Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said a home quarantine should meet several conditions otherwise a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient should stay in the isolation facilities provided by their local government.

Kailangan may sarili silang kuwarto at may sariling banyo sa bahay. Pangalawa, masisiguro na may adequate monitoring sa kanila. Kung hindi natin maco-comply conditions, the best pa rin talaga ang Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (They need to have their own room and bathroom at home. Secondly, there should be adequate monitoring. If they cannot comply with the conditions, it is best if they are transferred to the Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility),she said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Sunday (July 12) discouraged home quarantine for mild COVID-19 patients due to the risk of spreading the disease at home. –AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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