MANILA, Philippines – Health advocates band together to express the need for a sustainable health promotion program for the country. More than just the dissemination of health information, health promotion aims to provide a healthier environment that is accessible to all Filipinos to help them make better decisions and control over their health.
Health advocates realize the impending threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. Some common NCDs include various cancers, lung diseases, and heart diseases. The Department of Health (DOH) has reported a staggering 200,000 cases of NCDs annually. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs account for 70% of deaths in the country every year.
“The sad part is, these deaths are highly preventable. Most NCDs occur through poor lifestyle choices. Because people choose to smoke, abuse alcohol, or even neglect proper diet and exercise, they easily succumb to these diseases,” says Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan, Former DOH Health Secretary.
Risk factors that lead to NCDs includes tobacco use, obesity, hypertension, and high blood among others. “By exposing Filipinos to healthier options, we can be rid of the risk factors that lead to NCDs, drastically improving the country’s health situation,” continues Dr. Galvez-Tan.
According to the WHO, currently 90% of the Filipino population has at least one risk factor for NCDs.
“It is crucial that a portion of the revenue generated through Sin Tax be earmarked for health promotion. Aside from lifestyle issues, the basic nutrition, sanitation and other social determinants of health must likewise be addressed to effectively put a stop to the rising NCD cases. By investing just P1B from the projected amounts, millions of Filipinos can be saved from NCDs,” according to Edelina Dela Paz of the Health Action Information Network.
Eng. Emer Roxas, President of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, speaks up in support for the funding of health promotion programs. “Prevention will save thousands from pre-mature death and unnecessary sickness. In a country where there is no adequate socialized insurance, the government must make sure that the right to health of every Filipino is observed and protected. A 1Billion allocation from the Sin Tax will come a long way in educating, informing and warning people against “unhealthy” habits such as too much sweet, salty and fatty foods; excessive drinking and their deadly smoking habit,” he says.
“Why focus on just treating the sick when you have majority of the population at risk for disease? This is what our leaders need to recognize, that preventive measures such as health promotion has the potential to ease the burden of health and economic costs of health care,” says Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines, a non-profit organization working for tobacco control measures in the country.
Debates for the Sin Tax reform are currently on hold with the senate on recess. It is scheduled to commence on November 5, 2012. ###