800 Pinoys die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) daily, worse than Yolanda
MANILA - "When it comes to tobacco, smokers are victims. Hindi madaling huminto ang paninigarilyo," said Dr. Tony Dans of UP Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and president of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine.
This was in reaction to an earlier report that the president could be impeached for smoking in Malacanang, which was later invalidated by the Civil Service Commission.
Dans even went as far as saying that the president's smoking has its advantages, such as the passage of laws seeking to curb smoking.
"Siguro mabuti na smoker sya, kasi he's a victim and he knows how it is how hard to stop smoking. Sino ba ang sumulong sa sin tax bill? It was pushed by a smoking president, not a non-smoking president," he said.
NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES WORSE THAN YOLANDA
The president's smoking habit was brought up at a press conference sponsored by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) where Dr. Dans presented a 2010 WHO Global Burden of Disease study on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Philippines.
Dr. Dans reported that 300,000 Filipinos die of NCDs every year, composed of 134,000 women and 175,000 men.
This means that 800 Pinoys die of NCDs a day.
"Walang sakit na ganyang karaming Pilipino ang namamatay. Walang tatalo dito, not AIDS, not Yolanda," added Dans.
NCDs are non-infectious diseases which includes heart disease, stroke, cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
TOP 3 MYTHS ABOUT NCDs
Dr. Dans also discussed the top 3 myths when it comes to NCDs
The first misconception is that NCDs are prevalent only among old people.
"Today, sakit ito ng mga bata at mga nagtratrabaho pa. Malaking epekto ito sa workforce. More than 1/3rd are below the age of 60," explained Dans.
The second misconception is that NCDs are diseases of the poor.
"Akala ng karamihan, sakit sya ng mayayaman. Hindi, sakit sya ng mahihirap. In Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, mas malakas mag-smoke ang mga mahihirap," said Dans.
The third misconception is that an NCD is a lifestyle choice.
"Lifestyle is not a choice, kung decision mong mag yosi, kumain ng unhealthy, yan ay reaction sa environment natin," said Dans.
Dans blamed the current environment where healthy food is expensive and there is no place to exercise or do outdoor activities like running and biking.
"Halimbawa, may pasyenteng na-stroke, papagalitan sya ng doctor dahil naninigarilyo, hindi nag eexercise. Victim sya, di dapat sya pagalitan, kasalanan yan ng lipunan," added Dans.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE BILL
A day before Valentine's Day, Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador "Doy" Leachon is set to to file his "healthy lifestyle bill," which reinforces the need for a curriculum on health and for an environment that encourages healthy practices to be taught it schools.
Leachon said part of the bill is to create a Bureau of Health Education under the Department of Education which will benefit grade school and high school students.
"It's our Valentine's gift to protect the young and the poor. Ang focus kasi ngayon ng gobyerno is more on the treating side. We should start them young para nasa subconscious nila, turuan sila na bawal ang uminom, manigarilyo," said Leachon.
EDUCATION IS NOT ENOUGH
While he supports the bill, Dans said they have enough research that education alone will not change people.
"Example: doctors, they know the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, but 20 percent of doctors smoke, most of them do not exercise. We need to do something more, change the environment in school, workplace and the community," he said.
Dans suggested to make healthy food available in schools, put proper labeling in food, institute subsidies in fruits and vegetable, and "why not a sin tax on food that have a lot of calories?"
For Dans, it is important for society to acknowledge that NCDs are brought about by society itself.
"It is not just the reponsibility of the DOH [Department of Health]. The DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] has a lot to do with it," he said.