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Uganda confirms first case of Ebola

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

Courtesy : Reuters

Uganda has confirmed its first case of Ebola during the current outbreak, a five-year-old Congolese child who is receiving care after arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday (June 11).

Uganda Minister of Health, Aceng Jane Ruth, confirmed the case and detailed the circumstances to the media at a briefing in Kampala.

The WHO said in a statement: “This is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The affected child, traveling with his family, had entered Uganda on June 9 through Bwera Border post. They sought medical care at Kagando hospital and the child was transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management, the WHO said.

“The confirmation was made today by the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI) … Contacts are being monitored,” the WHO said.

Since the epidemic began in August in eastern Congo, the Congo health ministry said on Monday that it had recorded 2,062 cases including 1,390 deaths.

Uganda has suffered regular outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg over the years, both high-fatality viral haemorrhagic fevers, and health facilities to treat the diseases are relatively robust for the region. (REUTERS)

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Don’t let tobacco take your breath away—WHO

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows cigarettes in their pack, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Illustration

Tobacco kills one person every four seconds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This World No Tobacco Day, the WHO reiterates the deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoking.

According to the WHO’s statement, “the campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.”

Once you decide to quit smoking, here are the benefits of smoking cessation.

1. There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting for all smokers.

Beneficial health changes that take place:

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
  • 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
  • 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.
2. People of all ages who have already developed smoking-related health problems can still benefit from quitting.

Benefits in comparison with those who continued:

  • At about 30: gain almost 10 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 40: gain 9 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 50: gain 6 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 60: gain 3 years of life expectancy.
  • After the onset of life-threatening disease: rapid benefit, people who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50%.
3. Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children.

Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections.

4. Others benefits.

Quitting smoking reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

So choose health, not tobacco.

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WHO: Tobacco kills 8 million each year; e-cigarettes, not a proven alternative

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019

FILE PHOTO – A cigarette burns in an ashtray at a pub in Prague, Czech Republic, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Tobacco kills eight million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday (May 29), ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31).

The WHO said 40 percent of tobacco victims die from lung diseases and about one million from second-hand smoke.

More than 60,000 children under 5 years old die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke, WHO director for non-communicable diseases, Vinayak Prasad, said in a briefing.

“Out of these 8 million, we have about 3.3 million — about 40% — of these deaths, due to lung diseases. What are these lung diseases: cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and even tuberculosis,” said WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Director, Dr. Vinayak Prasad.

Globally, there are around 1.1 billion smokers.

Anti-tobacco campaigns and measures are bearing fruit, but mostly in high-income countries, Prasad said, while the smoking population remained constant or even increased in low-income countries, where the tobacco industry is now focusing sales efforts.

Prasad issued a caveat on e-cigarettes, saying there is no evidence proving they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, warning that it normalizes smoking and hooks young people.

“There is a perception that these are safe products and it is actually hitting the market and the group which is most vulnerable — children, teenage children…So it is a problem we are seeing in a number of countries now,” he said.

The WHO recommends that e-cigarettes be subjected to the same guidelines as for tobacco products, meaning non-smokers should be protected from second-hand smoke, pregnant women should be prohibited from using them, and advertising content must be regulated.

“These products (e-cigarettes) are not smokeless, these products are tobacco products, so there are two big things: one is these are tobacco products, and our recommendations as WHO (World Health Organization) is ‘please regulate them as tobacco products’. The claims that these are less harmful… We don’t know,” he said.

“There is no evidence to demonstrate that and therefore we follow the precautionary principle: take precautions, treat them as tobacco products, and regulate them, the way you regulate for other products,” he added.

Earlier this week, more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations called on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take swift action to curb advertising of tobacco products on their platforms.

This is after a Reuters report documented how cigarette maker Philip Morris International has used young personalities on Instagram to sell a new “heated tobacco” product called IQOS. (REUTERS)

READ: Rules on use of e-cigarettes, vapes out next week – DOH

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Rules on use of e-cigarette, vapes out next week – DOH

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An exhibitor staff member uses an electronic cigarette at Beijing International Vapor Distribution Alliance Expo (VAPE CHINA EXPO) in Beijing, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to release an order detailing the regulations on the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vapes next week, a health official said on Wednesday.

Health Assistant Secretary Atty. Charade Mercado-Grande said in a press briefing that the DOH’s Executive Department is poised to sign the order which may be released in the first week of June.

The move follows the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to regulate or ban the use of e-cigarettes and related products once it is proven that these also contain cancer-causing chemicals that are found in traditional cigarettes.

“There’s no total ban, but more of regulation. That’s what we will do for now,” Mercado-Grande said.

The DOH explained that they are still in the process of examining all the chemicals used in e-cigarettes and vapes before implementing a total market ban.  

“I’ll check on the classification if it is considered as pharmaceutical or what is the specific qualifications of the chemicals but definitely anything that we put in our body especially when there are studies that prove they are harmful to health, the DOH must do protective measures,” Mercado-Grande said.

The Health department further stated they are now working with the Department of Finance (DOF) for the proposed imposition of tax on e-cigarettes and vapes.

But DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua admitted that gathering data for the proposal is a bit of a challenge as the country has no existing policy about its use.

“This is a less regulated market and unlike cigarettes outside the factory, there is the BIR that monitors. Because excise works like this: When a product goes out of the factory, pay tax. These are largely imported, so we are working to understand the market better,” he said.

Chua said they are working to propose to the Senate to include e-cigarettes and related devices among the products on which to impose excise tax.

“Eventually, we will see a shifting from the traditional cigarette to the e-cigarette and the moment. We determine the health risk. We will, of course, propose the appropriate tax so I think the funding will continue,” he said.

Based on their proposal, the funds expected to be collected from the additional tax will be used to finance the implementation of the government’s Universal Health Care program. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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