MANILA, Philippines – One in every 3 people in the Philippines will die of a non-communicable disease (NCD) before he turns 70 years old, United Nations (UN) and local health experts reported after 5 days of dialogues.
Filipinos are vulnerable to these 4 disease groups:
- Cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke or heart attack
- Chronic respiratory diseases, such as emphysema
Government data show that heart disease and cancer are the two most common causes of death in the Philippines, with majority of those who develop these NCDs die prematurely.
The risks come from tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol, according to a joint press release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines and the Department of Health on Friday, May 18.
From May 7-11, specialists from the UN Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control secretariat conducted dialogues representatives from government, civil society, and the resident UN country team.
While they acknowledged the Philippines’ initiatives to lower the burden of NCDs in the Philippines – such as imposing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing sin taxes – they also noted that it had been difficult to raise the awareness on the threats of NCDs and their risk factors among the public, even policy makers.
The specialists found “significant gaps” between national policies and local implementation, and noted the difficulty in getting various sectors to take part in addressing NCDs.
Dr Gundo Weiler, WHO representative in the Philippines, said “progress in NCDs prevention and control requires coordinated action by many sectors, such as finance, trade and industry, budget and management, parliamentarians, justice, education, labor and employment, agriculture, local government and others.”
The Philippines also needs to make greater investment in health promotion and protection measures, they said, citing the experience of other countries, where prevention has proven the most effective public health investments. In the Philippines, they said, “current investments on NCDs are still focused on treatment.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said: “The NCDs crisis is a perfect storm that threatens to undermine all the progress we have made in recent years and the dreams of all Filipino families for our country.”
He added: “We are also up against powerful commercial forces and industry interference in our fight against NCDs, which is why we invited the joint UN mission to help us set up effective multisectoral coordination mechanisms to prevent and control NCDs in the country. This is not the health sector’s fight alone.” – Rappler.com