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DOH, health advocates push for higher tax on cigarettes

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and several health advocates are calling on the  immediate passage of a measure that would increase the taxes on cigarettes.

No less than Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led a forum on Friday (October 12) to campaign and push the Senate Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Senator Sonny Angara to increase the amount of excise tax on cigarette items.

Duque emphasized that the proposal would help minimize the number of smokers and patients who fall ill and die because of smoking cigarettes.

“The ultimate goal of the DOH is understanding that the Sin Tax law must proceed with the angle of health and

The group urges Senate to consider a P60.00 or P90.00 in tax to each pack of cigarettes.

Based on a prior study on the impact of the measure, around one to two million smokers would be encouraged to quit once the proposal becomes a law.

“Kapag tumaas kasi ang presyo siempre magkakaroon iyan ng impact sa demand, sa consumption at magkakaroon din iyan ng impact sa number of smokers,” Duque said.

The Health Secretary already forwarded a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte requesting him to certify as urgent the proposed increase in excise tax on cigarettes.

Aside from health reasons, the DOH believes that the additional tax on cigarettes will help support the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Bill once it is enacted into law. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Joan Nano.)

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Dengvaxia ban likely to extend for more than a year – DOH

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: The controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is likely to extend the ban on marketing and sales of Dengvaxia, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

December 29 this year marks the first year since the license of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur was suspended; banning its sale of Dengvaxia in the country.

The DOH believes that since the controversy on the anti-dengue vaccine is not yet closed, the ban on sale of Dengvaxia still remains.

“Iyong one-year suspension ng Dengvaxia CPR is not yet lifted and I do not see it being lifted anytime soon. We still have a lot of pending issues with the vaccine and at this time we do not see it being registered and allowed for marketing in the Philippines…regulatory issues and cases in Court,” said DOH Spokesperson Usec. Eric Domingo.

It will be recalled that the FDA suspended Sanofi for not submitting its post-marketing authorization requirements which were supposed to prove that the products manufactured by the pharmaceutical company are safe to use.

Sanofi also couldn’t assure the safety of Dengvaxia, according to DOH.

The DOH noted that in November 29, 2017, Sanofi released a statement that Dengvaxia is not advisable to be administered to seronegative recipients —children or adults—who never had dengue infection prior to injection for the reason that their cases are likely to develop into severe dengue.

“It cannot be used without testing for children if they had dengue before. And there are no available testing kits commercially to do that. We don’t see naman any use for the vaccine at this time,” Domingo said.

The DOH also argued that the even regulatory agencies in the world that were granted with licenses to use Dengvaxia such as in Brazil, have set restrictions on the use of Dengvaxia on children who never had dengue infection prior to injection.

Hindi na rin sila magbibigay without screening,” Domingo said.

Based on the latest findings of the DOH, about 24 to 25 cases of dengue infection led to death due to severe dengue.

“We’ve seen talagang meron tayong patients who have, na ang mortality nila was due to severe dengue and I think probably from talagang seronegative patients iyon,” the health official said.

Meanwhile, the DOH is still waiting for the approval of Congress regarding the supplemental budget for vaccinees from the refund that Sanofi gave which reached P1.16-B.

Domingo said before the end of the year, the Office of the Solicitor General is likely to file a case against Sanofi Pasteur in line with the Dengvaxia controversy. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH blames Dengvaxia controversy for 300% increase in measles cases in PH

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2018

 

MANILA, Philippines – Measles cases in the country have already reached to more than 17,000 from January to November this year.

Record shows a staggering increase of 367% as compared to the same period in 2017.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the increase is due to the public’s lack of trust and confidence in the government’s immunization programs stemming from the Dengvaxia controversy.

“There had been certain regions that had been affected by the continuing Dengvaxia issue, the Dengvaxia controversy…There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33% ; ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

According to the DOH, since the Dengvaxia immunization became a controversy in the country, many Filipinos now fear getting vaccinated.

Filipinos have also avoided even the trusted vaccines which had long been in use and proven effective.

This is also the reason why measles outbreak which resulted in six death cases was recorded in Zamboanga last February.

In October this year, measles cases in Bicol have also increased to 300%.

On Wednesday (November 28), 18 death cases were recorded in Sarangani province bringing the total to 84 in the province alone.

Most of those affected are between the ages of 4 months to 40 years old; majority of them were females.

The DOH already created an investigating team to monitor the measles cases in Sarangani province. The cases were identified to have originated from the B’laan tribe where vaccination is never practiced.

According to the Duque, these areas are also conflict- affected which is the reason why health services cannot easily reach the residents.

“It’s also NPA-infested and so this is really one of the challenges under the universal health care. This is something that we need to prioritize,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, more than 200 children were immunized in the affected areas to prevent them from being infected with measles.

Common signs and symptoms for suspected measles typically include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat followed by a rash that spread all over the body. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH warns public against self-medication, antibiotic misuse

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III calls on the public anew to do away with the self-medication practice but to go to public health centers or private hospitals instead to consult and to obtain proper diagnosis or prescription.

Duque’s call came amid the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines antimicrobial resistance as the ability of a microorganism to stop a microbial such as antivirals, antibiotics, and antimalarials from working against it.

Based on the latest report of the WHO, about 700,000 people die each year due to antimicrobial resistance.

The international health body fears this number will rise to 10 million by 2050.

The WHO says antimicrobial resistance is a serious global health concern as it compromises the ability to treat infectious diseases as well as undermines many other advances in medicine in both human and animal health.

“Tanggalin po natin ang self-medication behavior natin. Kasi hindi naman po kayo nagpakadalubhasa na nag- aral para maging doctor. Kapag kayo po ay naresetahan ng gamot, antibiotics lalong lalo na ay mangyari lang po na buoin po natin ang reseta at huwag po natin pini-piraso,” Duque advised.

Health officials say a patient should strictly follow the doctors’ prescription to avoid microbial resistance which occurs due to the misuse of antibiotics.

A person suffering from colds and other common illnesses should also refrain from using antibiotics.

“Many people believe that antibiotics are general medicine that should be used whenever there’s an infection but that is not true. Antibiotics are very powerful drugs that need to be used very carefully and very targeted manner,” explained Dr. Gundo Weiler, WHO Country Representative.

Aside from its effects on human health, the animal sector is also facing threats of antimicrobial resistance as some small-scale poultry raisers tend to abuse the use of antibiotics, according to the bureau of animal industry.

Some poultry raisers believe that the use of antibiotics in food will help their animals grow faster and bigger.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) prohibits this practice as animals might become antimicrobial resistant and develop harmful diseases that might be transmitted to humans upon consumption.

This is the reason why the department of health and the department of agriculture are planning to regulate the use of antibiotics in animals.

“Although we have a list of all the agricultural suppliers, they can freely sell. There’s no restriction as of the moment. We have no law banning the sale of antibiotics for animals. That’s what we would want to have in the nation, an antimicrobial plan,” Dr. Jocelyn Salvador of BAI concluded. – Aiko Miguel

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