DOH wants tax on salty food products

Robie de Guzman   •   October 30, 2019   •   479

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to propose imposing additional taxes on salty food products in a bid to lower the high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

High consumption of salt is one of the causes of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, stroke and chronic respiratory illnesses. Excessive salt intake is also related to hypertension, kidney diseases and cardiovascular problems, according to the DOH.

DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Eric Domingo noted that the recommended salt intake per day for adult Filipinos is just under a teaspoon or around two grams.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said that the recommended salt intake per day should be less than five grams.

“Ang cause ng hypertension sa atin, maliban sa paninigarilyo, ay pagkain ng maalat. Dapat po isang tao, 2 grams lang per day, tayo po ang konsyumo natin 11-15 grams per day, so tayo ay 4-5 times sa mga Filipino,” Domingo said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.

High sodium intake raises blood pressure that leads to stroke and heart diseases, the two biggest causes of death and disability worldwide, according to the WHO.

In the Philippines, the DOH reported that more than 170,000 individuals die each year from heart diseases, specifically hypertension.

To curb the high incidence of these diseases and to help encourage people to eat healthy foods, the DOH is pushing for the imposition of additional taxes on products with too much salt.

Domingo cited the experience of several countries that imposed tax on unhealthy food which forced companies to adjust their product formulation.

“And it has been found in many countries that when you tax products that are unhealthy, talagang nagde-decrease kasi ang intake and the companies reformulate yung kanilang product,” he said.

The government has implemented tax on sugary drinks as well as on tobacco products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOH: 11 patients under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that 11 patients are under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 11 patients under investigation have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Based on the DOH, two of the 11 patients are in Metro Manila, one in MIMAROPA, three in Western Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, three in Central Visayas and one in Northern Mindanao.

Duque said all the patients under investigation are being closely monitored. He also reiterated that there are still zero confirmed nCoV cases in the Philippines.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Just because we flashed the areas where the PUIs come from, it doesn’t mean those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus, because there’s none. We keep harping the fact that there is none—still zero as of today,” he said.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said the five-year-old patient in Cebu has already been discharged, while the others are already in the process of being released.

The DOH also reminds the public to practice good hygiene to prevent the risk of infection from any virus.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Still no confirmed case of novel coronavirus yet in PH – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   January 23, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks who arrived from Guangzhou, China prepare to exit the airport at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 22 January 2020. According to media reports, at least nine people have died and more than 400 people are confirmed infected by a new respiratory virus which was first detected in Wuhan, China. The virus, called the coronavirus, can be passed between humans and has spread to the USA, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to receive results of the test on a Chinese boy’s blood samples sent to Australia after he was confined for symptoms of the new strain of coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people in China.

Meantime, the DOH stressed that there is no positive case of the so-called 2019 novel coronavirus yet in the Philippines.

Until now wala pa tayong confirmatory test (We don’t have confirmatory test until now),” said DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo.

“The patient is still admitted and has recovered. The patient is having some mild cough but no fever and so far the patient is doing well. But we are not discharging the child,” he said of the Chinese boy.

His family, who arrived in Manila from Hong Kong, also does not show any symptoms of the viral infection.

Wala silang sakit so wala namang (They are not sick so there is no) need for us to do any tests on them or to admit them or to hold them in isolation,” Domingo explained.

“The advice really is for them to continue keeping in touch with us and then we will be monitoring them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the flight attendant who offered herself to self-quarantine after experiencing flu-like symptoms upon arriving from Wuhan, China also tested negative of coronavirus.

According to the DOH, the recent cancellation of flights from Wuhan, China and the order to place the entire city on lockdown is helpful to secure the country from a potential entry of the virus.

Meanwhile, the DOH expressed support should the World Health Organization (WHO) declares global health emergency to curb the spread of the unknown virus.

Domingo also assured that the Department will remain on the frontline in case management and disease control in the Philippines should the international health body declares the outbreak of 2019-nCov a global pandemic.

“We have the infrastructure and we have the system ready. It’s really just a matter of activating it, ever since SARS we already have quick response system in place,” the official explained.

In this case nagkakaroon lang din ng kaunting modification kasi (In this case we are doing some modifications because) from SARS to MERS- COV to the novel Coronavirus for 2019, they are not exactly all the same not even clinically like this one is apparently less infectious,” he added.

Amid the novel coronavirus scare, the DOH reiterates its appeal to the public to always monitor updates from authorized agencies such as the DOH and WHO, especially when it comes to declarations on the still unknown strain of coronavirus so as not to cause panic given that unverified information is easily spread on social media nowadays. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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