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WHO promotes ‘Salt Awareness Week’: 5g of salt a day is OK

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

A cook sprinkles salt on fries at a cafe in the Frietmuseum in Bruges September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 agreed to reduce by 30% the global population’s intake of salt (sodium) by 2025.

In observance of the ‘Salt Awareness Week’ from March 4 to 10, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) joins the international community in efforts to campaign salt-intake reduction in view of the risks that high salt intake may cause to human health.

WHO recommends just under a teaspoon or less than 5 grams of salt intake a day for adults while children are recommended to have less or adjusted amount based on their energy requirements.

The WHO recommends iodized or “fortified” with iodine, “essential for healthy brain development in the fetus and young child and optimizing people’s mental function in general”.

However, in many countries, salt comes in different, ‘unrecognizable’ forms.

According to a UK-based expert group World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), “salty sauces such as soy sauce are big contributors of salt to diets worldwide”.

Packaged food or ready meals and food served in restaurants, food chains and cafeterias are actually loaded with salt.

Health and wellness experts say that though salt is an essential part of our diet, it should come in small amounts as eating too much salt can have huge health impacts.

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

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

A study from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health added that too much salt intake may develop urinary tract infection (UTI); kidney stones; bone mineral loss in women; and hypercalciuria or increased calcium in the urine which may lead renal failure; and other disabilities.

PH’s Internet-based ‘Salt Calculator’

In 2015, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute – Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) together with Unilever Philippines launched an Internet-based tool that measures one’s salt intake.

The web-based tool presents main food sources of salt in Filipino diets and reveals an individual’s salt intake based on the result of the Sodium Intake Level Test provided.

The ‘salt calculator’ can be accessed through FNRI-DOST’s website www.i.fnri.dost.gov.ph.

Read product labels for salt content: Green is healthy

In Northern Ireland, the country’s Public Health Agency (PHA) issued high salt intake warning to remind the public of the dangers of eating too much salt.

Caroline Bloomfield, health and social well being improvement senior manager at PHA noted the importance of tasting the food first to know if adding salt is necessary than automatically adding salt to the food.

The agency also advises consumers to read product labels before buying any ready-to-eat food items.

These labels have indicators of the nutritional value a portion of food accounts for and will guide consumers if the product has high, medium or low amount of salt.

Red means high; amber means medium; and green means low which imply that the more greens you buy, the healthier are your choices.

Meanwhile, there are products that do not use the color codes but the amount of salt is indicated by grams.

A product is high in salt if it contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g.

The product has medium amount if the salt content is between 0.3g and 1.5g while 0.3g of salt or less per 100g is considered low.

The WHO recommends discipline in eating and watch the salt content in food that we eat.

To date, WHO-member states are bound to adhere with the “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” which calls on governments to take action to support healthy diets and physical activity at local, regional and global level. – Marje Pelayo

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Dengue on the rise: How to protect your family against dengue virus

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday declared a national alert due to spiking dengue cases in several regions.

READ: DOH declares dengue alert in several regions

Data from the DOH showed that from January 1 to June 29, 2019, there have been 106,630 dengue cases this year. This is 85 percent higher than the 57,564 cases reported in the same period in 2018.

Regions where the dengue alert was raised include Regions 1, 2, 4A, 5, 8, 9, 11, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection commonly occurring in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, including the Philippines.

The dengue virus (DEN) comprises four distinct serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4) which belong to the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main vector that transmits the viruses that cause dengue. The viruses are passed on to humans through the bites of an infective female Aedes mosquito, which mainly acquires the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person.

How dengue virus affects your body?

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cybele Abad, in an interview with UNTV Digital program Lifesaver, said that when dengue virus enters the human body, it spreads through blood and infects the cells by binding itself to the cell membrane.

When this happens, an infected person may feel sudden, high fever followed by severe headaches, pain behind the eyes and severe joint and muscle pain. A person may also feel fatigue, nausea and skin rash which would appear two to five days after the onset of fever.

Watch this online episode of Lifesaver for more information on how dengue affects your body.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of dengue typically last two to seven days. Most people infected by the virus will recover after about a week.

However, some people who get sick with dengue may develop severe dengue, a more serious form of disease that can result in shock, internal bleeding and even death.

Symptoms of severe dengue include stomach or belly pain, bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting blood or blood in the stool. Warning signs generally begin in 24-48 hours after your fever has gone away.

If you or a family member develops any of the following symptoms, immediately go to the nearest hospital.

How to prevent dengue?

To protect yourself and your family from dengue, the DOH advises the public to follow the 4S strategy: Search and destroy, Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation and Support fogging/spraying.

The DOH said it is important to search and destroy the breeding sites of mosquitoes such as containers that can store water; employ self-protection measures by installing screen on windows and doors in homes and schools, wear long socks, clothes with long sleeves and daily use of mosquito repellent.

It is also vital to seek early consultation when a person is starting to experience the symptoms. The public is also urged to support fogging or spraying only in areas where increase in cases is registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.

Experts said dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes are usually active from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Lifesaver is a UNTV Digital program that offers basic first aid training essential to anyone who happens to be a bystander to an accident or emergency. It also educates viewers of imperative emergency response lessons and indispensable disaster preparedness tools to be able to save lives in times of calamities.

For more information on dengue, other basic first aid and emergency response tips, visit Lifesaver’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.

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WHO warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019

A person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in this picture illustration taken in Ljubljana September 18, 2013. REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the spread of antimicrobial resistance around the world.

A recent UN report showed that 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. Among the 700,000 there are around 230,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

“Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis,” the report reads.

On June 18, the WHO launched a campaign which aims to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs. 

The AWaRe tool or Access, Watch, Reserve tool aims to make antibiotic use safer and more effective. The tool specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections.

Dr. Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant-Director General for antimicrobial resistance said tackling antimicrobial resistance requires a careful balance between access and preservation

“The AWaRe tool can guide policy to ensure patients keep being treated, while also limiting use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance,” she said.—AAC

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#WorldBloodDonorDay: WHO urges people to give blood, save lives

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the public to donate blood ahead of the celebration of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14 (Friday).

In a Twitter post, the WHO Philippines called on the public to participate in a blood donation drive they will organize with the Philippine Blood Center on June 13 (Thursday).

The bloodletting activity will be held in Sta. Cruz town, Manila from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“In early celebration of #WorldBloodDonorDay, WHO Philippines will be organizing a blood donation drive on 13 June, with the Philippine Blood Center,” the WHO Philippines announced.

“Join us at our office inside the @DOHgov compound from 9am to 4pm. Donate blood, save lives!” the agency added.   

According to the WHO website, the theme for this year’s campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion, as a component of achieving universal health coverage.   

The slogan “Safe blood for all” was also developed to raise awareness on the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the crucial roles that voluntary donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

The WHO said the theme aims to strongly encourage more people all over the world to donate blood regularly, and to urge all governments and health authorities to provide adequate resources and implement systems to increase blood collection, promote/implement appropriate clinical use of blood, and to set up policies for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized the need for blood especially during rainy season when mosquito-borne disease called dengue is more prevalent in the Philippines.

“That’s the time when you will have to consider ensuring availability of blood. In areas of identified hotspots, you have to ensure that delivery units have adequate stock of blood,” Duque said.

Aside from raising awareness, according to the WHO, the event also “serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.”The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2019 is Rwanda and the global event will be held in Kigali on June 14.

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