Thirty-six million deaths in 2008.
Annual Philippine deaths of 85,700 caused by cancer; 57,864 caused by heart disease; 18,512 caused by diabetes; and 13,473 caused by lung disease.
With these statistics recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO), health, indeed, is a continuing concern in a country where a fast-paced lifestyle is not uncommon.
‘WISDOM OF THE AGES’
It is thus a must to remind Filipinos the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle, according to Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman.
“Walking, for example, can help control the rising occurrence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country,” Soliman said before select representatives from the government, academic institutions, and the international community in a forum held recently at Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila. “Benefit from the wisdom of the ages.”
Citing also simple and traditional habits such as proper food intake and regular exercise, Soliman added that more doctors, nurses and health personnel should be designated to far-flung areas. People living in those areas in remote provinces should also consume organic foods, which are rich in vitamins in minerals needed to avoid acquiring NCDs.
Dubbed “Healthy People, Wealthy Nation,” the forum aimed to achieve inclusive growth through health promotion, while controlling and preventing the plight of NCDs in the country. It was a joint effort of HealthJustice Philippines, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Department of Health (DOH).
During the forum, too, Health Undersecretary Theodoro Herbosa emphasized the importance of universal healthcare to make facilities and service available to people, particularly to the ones who belong to the marginalized sectors. Quality, responsiveness, availability, and accessibility are important elements to be considered in addressing health inequity in the country.
University of the Philippines National Institute of Health’s Dr. Ernesto Domingo, a Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Awardee in 2013 whose talk focused on the social determinants of health and diseases, also graced the event.
HEALTH SYSTEMS AS INVESTMENT
“Currently, there is a lack of prioritization and sustainable funding for preventive healthcare measures, like health promotion that aims to address these NCDs,” SEATCA Project Director Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo said.
The forum, according to Dorotheo, was intended to demonstrate the socio-economic benefits of investing in promotive and preventive health systems through the experiences of select local government units and other countries, like Thailand and Australia.
For Dorotheo, promoting health in the country can be improved through universal health coverage, earmarked sin tax revenues, and health promotion legislation.
HealhJustice Philippines’ “Hive Five Life,” a five-way health promotion that can help improve the Filipinos’ quality of life, said that the top 10 leading causes of mortality in the country are heart disease, vascular disease, malignant neoplasm, pneumonia, accidents, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, perinatal period conditions, and nephritis.
“Most of these are aggravated by poor lifestyle choices. The quality of Filipino life suffers due to ignorance or inability to access healthier options,” it stated. “Health is a basic right of all Filipinos; therefore, everyone should have the capacity to make a healthy lifestyle possible.” (With reports from JAYVENN H. ANTONIO)