MANILA, Philippines – With the Sin Tax debates coming to a close, former health secretaries rally together asking legislators to include a provision for health promotion in the passage of the bill.
Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, Dr. Alberto Romualdez Jr., Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, Dr. Juan Flavier, Dr. Francisco Duque III, and Dr. Esperanza Cabral have all signed a joint statement asking legislators to allot just P1Billion from the revenue generated from the sin tax bill for Health Promotion programs.
Health promotion, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the process of enabling people to take control, and over, of their health. By making healthier options more accessible to Filipinos, the healthy lifestyle is now within reach.
“The health budget should not just focus on treating the sick, especially because majority of the population is healthy or not seeking treatment. Health promotion ensures that all Filipinos can benefit from the government by funding key programs such as tobacco control, alcohol control, road safety, and sports,” says Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan, former Department of Health (DOH) secretary. “The right to health is for everyone and health promotion ensures that all Filipinos have access to it.”
In a study by the DOH, it is revealed that 9 out of every 10 Filipinos have at least one risk factor that could lead to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These risk factors include tobacco use, hypertension, and obesity among others. These diseases lead to serious life-threatening conditions that are expensive to treat. According to the statement signed by the former health secretaries, health promotion aims to ease this burden by reducing the number of people getting sick and seeking medical attention.
“The threat of NCDs is something we can no longer ignore. Why wait any longer to implement measures that address this problem? Health promotion is possible now,” says former health secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral. “We hope our leaders understand that health promotion is a good investment, otherwise, it will certainly come back to haunt us in the future.”
Every 6 out of 10 Filipinos cause of death is a form of NCD.
“This epidemic has not gone unnoticed to our former health secretaries. Hopefully, this goes for our legislators as well. P1B per year for Health Promotion in the Sin Tax bill can assure us of a sustainable measure to implement health promotion programs,” says Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines.
The Senate is targeting to wrap up the discussion on Sin Tax by Monday, November 19. ###