Policing PH health problems

What will the former chief of the Philippine National Police do as an undersecretary of the Department of Health (DOH)? Arrest a disease to prevent a pandemic? Launch Oplan Tokhang against violators of health protocols? Set new rules for confinement and isolation? Shoot a disease-causing organism with a gun, instead of a hypodermic needle filled with vaccine?

It turns out the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) has also many questions about the appointment of Gen. Camilo Cascolan as one of DOH’s undersecretaries.

As reported by the Inquirer, AHW said, ““Cascolan’s appointment is a huge insult to our health experts, who are most qualified to administer and run the affairs of the DOH.” The group cited Cascolan’s role in former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration’s “Oplan Tokhang” that resulted in the death of thousands in supposed police operations.

Cascolan, AHW added, was among those who drafted PNP’s “Oplan Double Barrel”, which consisted of “Oplan High-Value Target” where police would go after so called “big fish” drug lords and Oplan Tokhang where police knocked on homes to find drug suspects.

Inactive Pinoy

The World Health Organization (WHO), an attached agency of the United Nations, has warned the public of the negative health impact and economic burden of physical inactivity.

In its Global Status Report on Physical Activity 2022, WHO found that 81 percent of adolescents and 2.75 percent of adults worldwide  do not meet its “recommended levels of physical activity”.

WHO said the situation would have an impact not only on individuals and their families but also on health services and society as a whole. “Physical inactivity contributes not only to missed opportunities for children and adults to have better health but also to the increasing burden of morbidity (illnesses) and mortality (deaths) that results from non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” it said.

WHO added, “About 7–8 percent of all cases of cardiovascular (heart) disease, depression, and dementia, and about 5 percent of type-2 diabetes cases, could be prevented if people were more active.”

Data showed that those who met the recommended levels of activity had a 20 to 30 percent reduced risk of premature death.

“Physical activity also benefits mental health, including prevention of cognitive decline and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improves children’s educational attainment. It can also contribute to the maintenance of healthy weight and general well-being,” WHO said.

Almost 500 million people worldwide would develop heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or other NCDs because of physical inactivity.

WHO said the burden of new cases “will largely fall on lower- and upper-middle-income countries,” with the Western Pacific Region—where the Philippines is located—predicted to be hardest hit.

A 2019 report by WHO and the UN Development Program (UNDP) found that NCDs accounted for 68 percent of all deaths in the Philippines. The economic cost of NCDs to the Philippine economy was about P756.5 billion per year, or 4.8 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product.

The cost covered treatment, care, and social security provision. Indirect costs  arose from loss of workforce and reduced productivity.

The UN said the Global Status Report on Physical Activity 2022 called for countries to “prioritize a fitness boost, as key to improving health and tackling NCDs, integrate physical activity into all relevant policies, and develop tools, guidance, and training”.

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