Country in a ‘win-win-win’ situation with increased cigarette tax—WHO

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 4, 2019   •   3512

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that raising taxes on cigarette will be a “win-win-win” situation and can save around 460,000 lives.

According to WHO representative to the Philippines, Gundo Weiler, on Monday (June 3) excise taxes on cigarette is a win for the economy.

“We know that individually, especially for the poorest segment of the society, increasing [the price of] tobacco will actually help them save money. They spend less on cigarettes. They will spend less on unnecessary health care,” he said.

Weiler adds that the collected tax can be used to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC).

Bill imposing excise tax on single-use plastic bags hurdles House panel

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to impose an excise tax on every kilogram of single-use plastic bags has hurdled the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

The measure proposes the imposition of a P20 levy for every kilogram of single-use plastics used in malls, supermarkets, stores, outlets and similar establishments.

The proposed amount is higher than the initial P10 amount of excise tax contained in House Bill 178.

The committee’s chairman, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said that once signed into law, the measure would generate a revenue of P4.8 billion on the first year of its implementation.

It also has a minimal impact of P0.07 on sando plastic bags.

Salceda said single-use plastic bags will be levied first because imposing tax on other type of plastic packaging, like sachet, might trigger increase in the price of basic commodities.

“It’s just the first step. The next step is a tax on primary plastic packaging especially sachet since it accounts for two-thirds of solid waste and garbage,” Salceda said.

“We deferred that due to possible food inflation and prices of basic commodities, shampoo, toothpaste. However, if poverty goes single digit, we will include it possibly in three to four years,” he added.

The lawmaker also believes the measure would encourage the public to recycle plastic bags to help counter plastic pollution in the country, and add more fund for the solid waste management program of local governments.

Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association President Steven Cua, who attended the House hearing on Tuesday, agreed with Salceda’s statement.

“Walang kapalit ang plastic bag in terms of practicality. It’s the improper disposal that’s the problem, the mindset, which we have to correct,” he said.

In a 2015 report, the Philippines was listed as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 5, 2019

Much as we enjoy being a couch potato, our bodies need the right amount of exercise to stay healthy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults ages 18–64, to have at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or 75 minutes of rigorous physical activity a week.

Studies have shown that physically adults have lower rates of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

Other benefits include:

  • less risk of a hip or vertebral fracture;
  • exhibit a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness; and
  • more likely to achieve weight maintenance, have a healthier body mass and composition.

The WHO said the recommendation is applicable to all healthy adults. However, there will be adjustments depending on the exercise capacity of an individual and the specific health risks or limitations.

“There are multiple ways of accumulating the total of 150 minutes per week. The concept of accumulation refers to meeting the goal of 150 minutes per week by performing activities in multiple shorter bouts, of at least 10 minutes each, spread throughout the week then adding together the time spent during each of these bouts: e.g. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week,” according to their statement.—AAC

WHO declares eradication of second strain of wild poliovirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2019

A child receives an oral polio vaccine from Red Cross volunteers during a vaccination program by the UNICEF at a public school building turned into a temporary evacuation center in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, 26 November 2013. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide, hailing the development as a “historic achievement for humanity.”

The WHO made the announcement on World Polio day on Oct. 24.

There are three strains of wild poliovirus. All three types can cause irreversible paralysis or even death but the WHO said these three have genetic and virologic differences that must be eradicated individually.

The WPV3 is the second poliovoirus strain to be wiped out following the eradication of wild poliovirus 2 in 2015. The last confirmed case of WPV3 was reported in northern Nigeria in 2012, according to the WHO.

An independent panel of experts concluded that WPV3 strain has been eradicated after meeting the required criteria for verification.

“The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health. Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Oversight Board said in a statement.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that all necessary resources are made available to eradicate all poliovirus strains. We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved,” he added.

According to Professor David Salisbury, chair of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, the type 1 of wild poliovirus still continues to circulate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We cannot stop our efforts now: we must eradicate all remaining strains of all polioviruses,” Salisbury said in a statement.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

Health authorities said there is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

The WHO said eradicating WPV3 proves that a polio-free world is achievable. Key to success will be the ongoing commitment of the international development community. 

“To this effect, as part of a Global Health Week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in November 2019, the Reaching the Last Mile Forum will focus international attention on eradication of the world’s deadliest diseases,” the WHO said.

The agency believes the event will provide an opportunity for world leaders and civil society organizations to contribute to the last mile of polio eradication.

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