WHO calls for “40 seconds of action” on World Mental Health Day

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 8, 2019   •   338

Every 40-seconds someone loses their life to suicide.

READ: Are suicidal thoughts contagious?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on the public to allot “40 seconds of action” for World Mental Health Day on October 10.

The WHO said they aim to increase awareness on the significance of suicide as a global public health problem and what else can be done to prevent suicide.

The organization has provided steps and ways on how everyone can participate in the 40 seconds of action.

Some of the ideas provided by the WHO include:

  • If you are struggling, take 40 seconds to kickstart a conversation with someone you trust about how you are feeling.
  • If you work in media, highlight the 40-second statistic in interviews, articles, and blog posts.
  • If you are an employer or manager, take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to your employees about resources available to them in the workplace or local community in times of mental distress.

“Everyone can take part in whichever way makes the most sense. Your activity may be private, for example, initiating a conversation with someone you are worried about or sharing a message of hope with someone who is struggling; or it may be public, for example posting a video message for local or national authorities about action you would like them to take on this issue,” the WHO said.—AAC

DOH, WHO warn public anew of e-cigarettes harmful effects

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 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) once again called on the public, especially pregnant women and young adults, to refrain from vaping and using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other heated tobacco products.

The DOH made the call after the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced new International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 10 code U07.0, an international tool for classifying and monitoring diseases, following its warning on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and other similar devices.

The tool, according to WHO, will be used for immediate reporting of acutely ill patients who have used e-cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no other plausible causes for illness.

“Electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are sold in the market as alternatives for smokers trying to wean themselves off tobacco. Some studies claim that they contain fewer toxic chemicals and are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

“We do not support their claim of reduced harm. These products endanger the health of both users and non-users, and are clearly not meant for children,” he added.

The WHO introduced new ICD codes in response to the epidemic in the United States involving healthy young people who were reported to have developed vaping-related illness in recent months.

With 1,299 cases and 26 deaths reported, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration are currently investigating the reports.

In support of WHO’s efforts, the DOH urged all government and private hospitals, clinics and other health facilities to use proper codes for designating vaping-related disorders to allow existing health information systems to capture data on vaping-related disorders.

Information on the potential harm of novel and emerging nicotine products can guide future policy directions for electronic cigarettes.

All health and allied health professionals are urged to be vigilant in identifying risks during routine clinical evaluations by taking the history of tobacco use and use of e-cigarettes or vapes in all patients.

DOH also called on the medical community, parents and teachers to help address the widespread use of electronic cigarettes, particularly among the youth and young adults.

“People who have recently used e-cigarettes or other vaping products should immediately seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms,” Duque said.

PCG saves man after jumping off a ship in Sibuyan island

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 2, 2019

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) saved a 53-year-old man who jumped off a ship along the coast of Gallo island in Sibuyan on Monday (September 30).

Authorities reported that the man, identified as Carlito Cataylo, might have been suffering from depression.

The sea marshals that were on-duty at that time immediately saved Cataylo after his 60-year-old wife called out for help when he jumped from MV St. Michael de Archangel.

“Base doon sa report na natanggap namin medyo parang agitated siya. Nakainom pero noong tinanong parang may dinadaanan siyang depression, (Based on the report we received, he seemed agitated. He had a drink but when he was interviewed, it seemed like he is going through depression)” according to PCG Spokesperson Capt. Armand Balilo.

Cataylo was immediately given first aid.

Experts say it is not easy for individuals who are suffering from depression. They advise relatives to talk to their loved ones who are suffering from the mental illness. It is also better to consult a specialist.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

WHO, UNICEF express concern over polio outbreak in PHL, call for urgent action

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday expressed concern over the re-emergence of poliovirus in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced an outbreak on polio after a case was confirmed in a 3-year old girl from Lanao del Sur. Environmental samples from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao also tested positive for the poliovirus.

READ: Public urged to join DOH vaccination program as polio re-emerges in PHL

“We are very concerned that polioviruses are now circulating in Manila, Davao, and Lanao del Sur,” WHO Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a joint statement with UNICEF.

“It is deeply disconcerting that poliovirus has re-emerged in the Philippines after nearly two decades. The outbreak calls for urgent action to protect more children from being infected,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyun Dendevnorov said.

The agencies said the polio outbreak in the Philippines is confirmed to be from a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.

This is of particular concern, as wild poliovirus type 2 was certified as globally eradicated in 2015, they added.

Polio mainly affects children under five years of age and vaccination is their only and best protection against the highly infectious disease.

But if immunization activities are poorly conducted and too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, the agencies said this can leave them “susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses.”

“Full immunization protects them from both forms of the virus.”

“It reminds us of the importance of increasing immunization coverage to 95% of children to stop polio virus transmission in the Philippines… As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio,” Dendevnorov said.

Prior to the declaration of the outbreak, the DOH and its partners launched a polio immunization campaign in the City of Manila. Further mass polio immunization rounds will be rolled out from October 2019.

The WHO and UNICEF both vowed to work closely with the DOH to strengthen surveillance and swiftly respond to the outbreak.

They also echoed the DOH’s call for parents and guardians, especially in affected areas, to have their children vaccinated for their protection against diseases.

“We urge all parents and caregivers of children under 5 years of age to have them vaccinated so that they are protected against polio for life.”

The WHO and UNICEF assured the oral polio vaccine (OPV) is a safe and effective vaccine that has saved millions of lives since its introduction in 1988.

The agencies explained that when a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened virus contained in the vaccine replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies.

If a population is not sufficiently immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes.

“In rare instances, the virus can change to a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), a form that has regained the ability to cause paralysis,” they said.

The WHO and UNICEF likewise called on local governments to help ensure that immunization campaigns are planned and implemented effectively.

They also reminded families to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use a toilet, consume food that is fully cooked, and drink safe water.

The two agencies are among the partner-organizations under the Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI) supporting the Philippine government’s response by providing technical advice and on-the-ground monitoring and risk communication.

The GPEI is a public-private partnership led by national governments with the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

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