Recent reports of the National Statistical Coordination Board show that the prevalence of diseases of the heart remains high in the Philippines despite it being the number one cause of mortality in the country.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute shared some tips on how to prevent heart ailments including having healthy diets, physical activities, and constant regulation of glucose, blood, and cholesterol levels.
Dr. Antonio Miguel Dans of the Philippine General Hospital explained that there are several misconceptions about Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as these cardiovascular diseases.
“One misconception is that lifestyle is a choice. It is not. Lifestyle is a human response to the physical, social and even regulatory environment. We eat unhealthy because junk food is very cheap. We don’t exercise because there is no place to exercise. And we smoke because we are exposed to advertisements even when we’re young, and because smoking is the cheapest form of leisure available. We can try to educate everyone as much as we can but unless we change the factors that lead to these unhealthy behaviors, people will not change the way they live,” Dr. Dans clarified.
This necessary intervention that will change the environmental factors leading to people’s unhealthy behaviors is Health Promotion. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion defines Health Promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.”
“Another misconception is that NCD is a disease of individuals. It is not. It is a disease of society. Therefore, NCD control should not just be the responsibility of the DOH and health professionals. Revising the physical, social and built environment is something the health profession cannot do. It is something the whole of society should work on – together,” Dr. Dans explained further.
Countries like Thailand and Australia have been implementing Health Promotion programs benefiting the general population through revenue generated from “sin” taxes. The World Health Organization, in line with the tax policies in the Article 6 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is also advocating for the use of income from tobacco taxes for Health Promotion.
“For the sake of our children, we must fight for an environment that enables a healthy lifestyle. We need to talk to our legislators and LGU officials, our builders and employers, education officials, the food industry, and more. If we do not join hands in this endeavor, then hundreds of thousands will continue to die every year,” Dr. Dans urged.