HEALTHJUSTICE Philippines, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Department of Health recently held an important forum with speakers from the government, the academe, civil society, and international representatives from our neighboring countries.
Health Promotion (HP) to control and prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is essential because these diseases (as reported by WHO) are responsible for 36 million deaths out of the 58 million in 2008.In the Philippines, 85,700 people die of cancer, 57,864 of heart disease, 18,512 of diabetes, and 13,473 of lung disease.
The HP Model focuses on health and aims to sustain it.
The NCD epidemic continually increases in low- and middle-income countries particularly in the Philippines. The poor are more prone to getting sick and are further burdened by the excessive medical bills brought about by those diseases, which tend to be chronic, slow in progression, and of long duration.
HealthJustice is an organization that is the resource in research for priority public health policy. It promotes health and focuses on curing, maintaining wellbeing.
This movement is gaining ground globally particularly in Australia, Canada, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, and Finland. We have been learning from the experience of Thailand.
Heath promotion is valuable in the prevention of NCDs that should and can be prevented.
The top four in the Philippines are: lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
According to the recent statistics, these diseases cause the loss of approximately $6 billion including productivity loss from death, disability and from the disease itself.
“Currently, there is a lack of prioritization and sustainable funding for preventive health care measures like Health Promotion that aim to address these NCDs,” says Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Project Director of the SEATCA Initiative on Tobacco Tax (SITT) Project.
Among the speakers were Chulalongkorn University lecturer Dr. Poranee Laoitthi from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine. She is a Thai pioneer in Health Promotion efforts and conducted a study.
“Through successful legislation and policy changes, Thailand has successfully controlled the common risk factors that lead to NCDs,” said Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines.
NCD RISK FACTORS:
• tobacco use
• alcohol use
• physical inactivity
• unhealthy diet
• improper road safety
• NCDs are the leading cause of most preventable deaths in the world.
• Every 1,000 tons of tobacco produced kills 1,000 people.
• Ten Filipinos die every hour.
• The harmful intake of alcohol is associated with over 60 diseases and health conditions.
• 2.5 million people die due to alcohol abuse.
• The Philippines ranks 2nd in Southeast Asia for most alcohol consumed.
• Physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause for mortality globally.
• 3.2 million deaths are caused by insufficient physical activity.
• 20% of Filipino males and 25.7% of Filipino females aren’t sufficiently active.
• Diet and nutrition can directly affect the occurrence or prevention of NCDs.
• 24.6% of Filipino males and 28.4% of Filipina females are obese.
• Traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury-related deaths worldwide.
• In the Philippines, road accidents account for 33% of all injuries from external causes
• In 2011, there were 8,175 reported fatalities due to traffic accidents.
There has been a concerted effort to prevent young people from taking up smoking. The sin taxes imposed on liquor and cigarettes have made the basic cost of cigarettes more expensive. But there are cheap smuggled cigarettes that people resort to when they need a fix. Others use the fake e-cigarettes that have nicotine but there is no smoke — there is only steam. Recent findings have shown that these e-cigarettes are not safe because of the nicotine.
Nicotine is so addictive that people crave for it long after they used up their supply of nicotine patches. Quitting smoking cold turkey is so difficult that the ex-smokers gulp down food.
The Australian poster with the graphic design of a body outline says it all:
“Stop Smoking; Start Repairing”
(The effects of stopping)
“After 1week, your sense of taste and smell return.
…3 months — Lung function begins to improve.
…8 hours — excess carbon monoxide oxide (CO) is out of your blood.
…5 days — Most nicotine is out of the body.
…1 year — a pack a day smoker saves $4,000.
…12 months — your risk of disease is halved.
… 12 weeks — Lungs regain the ability to clear themselves
… 5 years — Your risk of a strokes has dramatically decreased.”
The above is supposed to be the general picture.
However, there are shocking exceptions among ex-smokers.
Some aggressive cancers in the bladder and kidney have been traced to ex-smokers who had quit the habit some 20 years earlier. Fatal lung cancer is directly caused by second-hand smoke. There are more than 10 cancers and the risk of strokes and heart disease and its complications are linked to smoking, many years after the smokers had quit.
Life is precious. We should value our own health and that of our families through regular checkups, preventive physical care such as having a balanced diet with moderate exercise and getting fresh air. Above all, we should keep a positive attitude and minimize stress.
On a lighter note, a century ago, the famous wit Oscar Wilde quarreled with the spirited dancer-actress Sarah Bernhardt during the rehearsal of one of his plays. They argued about how her part should have been interpreted. Having reached an impasse, Wilde drawled, “Do you mind if I smoke, madam?” Bernhardt snapped, “I don’t care if you burn.”