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Healthcare funding gap to get bigger if no sin tax increase —DOF

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Courtesy : Pixabay & Pexels

The Department of Finance (DOF) said there will be a funding gap of P62 billion for the recently passed Universal Health Care (UHC) if Congress will not increase sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

In a press briefing of the DOF and the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday (May 17), DOF Secretary Carlos ‘Sonny’ Dominguez III said there would be difficulty in implementing the UHC without new sources of revenue.

“If we do not establish new sources of revenue, we will not have enough funds to properly, fully implement Universal Health Care and ensure a better quality of life for all Filipinos,” he said.

He adds that if the increased sin taxes will be approved, the UHC can cover around 120 drugs to Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said raising taxes will also reduce consumption leading to better health for Filipinos.

“Sin tax is first and foremost a health measure. When the prices of cigarettes and alcohol are higher, it is harder, especially for the youth to buy these very harmful products. We can only reduce consumption by making these “sin” products less affordable to consumers,” he said.

Both departments also envisioned the Philippines to be one of the healthiest in Asia by 2040. They propose to increase tobacco taxes by P60 per cigarette and P40 per liter of alcohol.

“With 9 days remaining in the 17th Congress, there is still time to collectively take action. We look forward to the support of our counterparts in the legislature, during this crunch time. This is the final round, tapusin na natin ang boksing, (Let’s finish the fight)” Duque added.

Senator Manny Pacquiao filed Senate Bill 1599 which aims to increase tobacco excise tax to P60 per pack in the first year of implementation, and an additional nine percent each year afterwards.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 2177 raising tobacco taxes to P70 per pack while Senator JV Ejercito filed Senate Bill 1605 increasing tobacco taxes to P90 per pack.

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Dengue cases in CARAGA region rises to 5,800; death toll 17

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Dengue cases in CARAGA region has climbed to 5,800 while death toll raised to 17 since January of this year, higher compared to the same period last year.

The Department of Health is alarmed by the increase of dengue cases in the region after the number more than doubled from only 1,173 cases to 5,800. Death toll also rose to 17 in January from four deaths last year.

Based on the investigation of the DOH, late diagnosis and late treatment were one of the major reasons that caused the death of 17 dengue patients.

Doctors in the region reiterate the importance of medical checkups.

“Seek early consultation sa panahon na meron tayong nakikitang myembro ng ating pamilya na may lagnat lampas pa sa dalawang araw at may pang hihina. Kailangan tayong lumapit sa ating malapit na mga health center para sa pagpakunsulta, (Seek early consultation if we have a family member who is experiencing fever for more than two days including extreme fatigue. You need to go to the nearest health center for consultation),” said Dr. Glee Valendoza, Medical Officer III/ Infectious Cluster Head, DOH 13.

The department also reminds the public to use the 4-S against dengue especially in residences near waterways.—AAC (with reports from Raymond Octobre)

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#WorldBloodDonorDay: WHO urges people to give blood, save lives

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the public to donate blood ahead of the celebration of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14 (Friday).

In a Twitter post, the WHO Philippines called on the public to participate in a blood donation drive they will organize with the Philippine Blood Center on June 13 (Thursday).

The bloodletting activity will be held in Sta. Cruz town, Manila from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“In early celebration of #WorldBloodDonorDay, WHO Philippines will be organizing a blood donation drive on 13 June, with the Philippine Blood Center,” the WHO Philippines announced.

“Join us at our office inside the @DOHgov compound from 9am to 4pm. Donate blood, save lives!” the agency added.   

According to the WHO website, the theme for this year’s campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion, as a component of achieving universal health coverage.   

The slogan “Safe blood for all” was also developed to raise awareness on the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the crucial roles that voluntary donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

The WHO said the theme aims to strongly encourage more people all over the world to donate blood regularly, and to urge all governments and health authorities to provide adequate resources and implement systems to increase blood collection, promote/implement appropriate clinical use of blood, and to set up policies for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized the need for blood especially during rainy season when mosquito-borne disease called dengue is more prevalent in the Philippines.

“That’s the time when you will have to consider ensuring availability of blood. In areas of identified hotspots, you have to ensure that delivery units have adequate stock of blood,” Duque said.

Aside from raising awareness, according to the WHO, the event also “serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.”The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2019 is Rwanda and the global event will be held in Kigali on June 14.

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Online selling of prescription drugs not allowed by law – DOH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, June 10th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Social media have become a popular platform for online selling of almost everything – from shoes, clothes, gadgets, machines, food, even health supplements and prescription medicines.

A concerned netizen posted on social media how easy it was for her to order prescription medicines from an online store and pay the amount at any payment center.

The UNTV News Team checked on the online pharmacy which the netizen mentioned and what other prescription medicines were available for purchase.

The online pharmacy was still open but the prices of medicines were no longer posted.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), selling prescription drugs online is not allowed and may incur penalties under the law.

“Hindi pwede iyang antibiotics sa Lazada (Antibiotics are not allowed on Lazada). That is a violation of our Generics law and Cheaper Medicines Act,” noted Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Prescription is a must. It is a requirement. You cannot have medicines, antibiotics delivered through Lazada as if it were an ordinary item.  We will file a case against Lazada if it is doing that,” Duque added.

The Department Secretary said if antibiotics would be made easily available on online shops, cases of anti-microbial resistance might soon get out of hand.

In a World Health Organization (WHO) report, seven thousand individuals die every year across the globe due to anti-microbial resistance or AMR.

AMR happens when a certain drug is no longer effective to fight or destroy microbes or parasite inside the human body due to over dosage or unprescribed intake of antibiotics.

For this reason, the DOH reminds the public to religiously follow the doctor’s prescription of a certain anti-biotics to benefit from it.

In line with this issue, the DOH will conduct its own investigation on reports about prescription drugs being sold online.

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