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

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2019   •   3364

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.

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 22).

Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring the U.N. agency said in its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.

Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.

It added however that the current and available studies on the toxicity of plastic parts are limited, and also have not used standardized methods enabling scientists to have reproducible and comparable metrics, and that more studies are needed to be more conclusive on certain of the issues.

Microplastics pose three threats, a physical one, a chemical and the third is about bacterial colonization.

The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while the vast majority of smaller ones are likely to be excreted too, there still remains concern. WHO technical experts reported that more research needs to be conducted to know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts.

The chemical hazard, experts have looked at the concentrations found in marine microplastics and chose a worst-case scenario saying we would ingest the highest possible concentrations. According to WHO, whatever the chemical, the exposure level was a lot safer than any threshold of risks.

Bacterial colonization, health experts say there are so many particles in the environment bacteria might adhere to, that microplastics would make a negligible contribution to any microbioflora that would be released and pose a risk.

For this report, however, despite the flaws, they say they worked with worst-case scenarios and are confident that the risk would remain low should some data change.

The WHO recommended for consumers to keep on consuming tap or bottled water, provided it is correctly treated, and didn’t recommend for any regulations to be put in place. It also called for more studies, investigating the potential cumulative effects of the ingestion of microplastics present in food, air, water.

The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens —including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.

Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”

Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June.

That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depretis, Emilie Delwarde)

Leptospirosis case now over 900; NKTI gym, converted into leptos ward

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has turned its gymnasium into an alternative ward for leptospirosis patients.

This is to accommodate patients with leptospirosis and be provided with immediate treatment for the deadly disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the recent rains that caused flooding had contributed to the increase in the number of leptospirosis patients in Metro Manila alone.

To date, the DOH has recorded 106 fatalities and more than 900 cases of leptospirosis. 300 of which are from the NCR.

“It’s really a problem because you know the environmental, sanitation and hygiene do affect the health of our people because the local government, for example, do not do their efficient garbage collection, so certainly it raises the risk of the populace,” DOH Sec. Francisco Duque added.

This, however, is still low compared to what was recorded last year in the last 2 years.

The DOH then urged the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective surroundings to prevent leptospirosis. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Number of dengue cases in NCR exceeds alert threshold – DOH

Maris Federez   •   August 16, 2019

A child suffering from dengue fever receives medical treatment at an isolation ward of a government-run hospital in Manila, Philippines, 16 July 2019. (Photoville International)

The National Capital Region (NCR) has recorded more than 11,000 dengue cases from January to August 10 this year.

This is 33% higher than what was recorded in the past five years.

“It’s starting to rise and just like the other regions that began with the alert levels, naging epidemic level na sila [they’ve reached the epidemic level]. Pwede pa ring sumipa ang dengue. Kaya hindi ho tayo pwedeng magpahinay-hinay [Dengue case can still go up. That’s why we should not be complacent],” Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The cities in the NCR where dengue cases have spiked include Paranaque, Malabon, Taguig, Makati, and Mandaluyong.

The DOH clarified that no medicine, supplement, or vaccine had been proven to cure dengue.

The health department also supports the move of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to fund the distribution of food supplements which may help increase an individual’s platelet count to avoid dengue.

“Wala namang gamot ang dengue. Wala ring bakuna. At kung meron man sila ng inaalay na makakagamot, hindi po totoo iyan. Ito po ay food suppmement lamang at kinakailangan merong FDA certificate of product registration [There is no medicine for dengue. No vaccine either. And if there are some who offer something that’s supposed to cure dengue, it’s not true. It’s just a food supplement and it needs to have FDA certificate of product registration],” Duque added.

The health official then reminded the public to clean their surroundings and eradicate dengue-mosquito breeding areas through the 4 o’clock habit using the 4S strategy:

  • Search and Destroy
  • Self- Protection
  • Seek Early Consultation
  • Support Space Spraying

This is to further prevent the number of dengue cases in Metro Manila to further exceed the health department’s alert threshold. (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

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