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Cebu News

Heart diseases kill 345 daily

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Heart diseases kill 345 Filipinos every day, according to a group of doctors and lawyers.

As this developed, a lawmaker expressed alarm over the rising incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) among younger Filipinos.

Dr. Luigi Segundo, director of Philippine Heart Association, linked CVDs to the high intake of trans-fatty acids and a sedentary lifestyle, among other factors.

He said that Filipinos who suffer from stroke and other heart conditions are getting younger.

He said that industrially-produced trans fatty acids or iTFAs are a toxic compound added by food manufacturers to their products to prolong their shelf life.

Margarine, baked goods, and instant coffee are just some of the food items known to have high traces of iTFA.

National Nutrition Council-7 regional nutrition program coordinator Parolita Mission has welcomed the move of Congress seeking to ban iTFAs in the country’s food supply.

Mission said if approved, this measure would surely help improve the health of people in Central Visayas and the entire country.

Also, the public interest law group, ImagineLaw, has welcomed the filing of the bill saying that the passage of a Trans Fat Free Philippines Law will improve Filipinos’ heart health since high intake of trans fats contributes to cardiovascular diseases, citing data from the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Senators Nancy Binay, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr., and Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bills No. 116 (co-authored with Sen. Risa Hontiveros), 1207, and 1286, respectively. The bills mandate food manufacturers to reformulate and eventually eliminate trans fatty acids or TFAs in their products.

 Counterpart measures were also recently filed in the House of Representatives by Laguna First District Rep. Ann Matibag (House Bill No. 1485), Quezon Rep. Mike Tan (House Bill No. 2548), and Ang Probinsyano Partylist Rep. Alfred delos Santos (House Bill No. 4379).

If passed into law, resources will also be allocated to strengthen the institutional capacity of regulatory agencies and ensure that all food sources of iTFA are removed.

Number 1 killer

Atty. Sophia San Luis, ImagineLaw’s executive director, said that heart disease is the number one killer for Filipinos and the proposed law will help protect our families and loved ones from cardiovascular diseases.

In 2021, the DOH released Administrative Order No. 2021-0039 that sets the plan to eliminate iTFA in the country’s food supply. In the same year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released Circular No. 2021-028, a set of guidelines for food manufacturers to remove iTFAs in their products by June 2023.

 Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Atty. Ma-anne Rosales-Sto. Domingo of ImagineLaw said that CVDs like coronary heart disease and stroke remain to be the top killer in the Philippines.

"Every day, 345 Filipinos are killed by heart disease,” she said adding eliminating trans fat in the Philippine food supply should be a priority to break this deadly chain and improve Filipinos’ heart health”.

Dr. John Juliard Go, National Professional Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Philippines, said that trans fat elimination is a multi-sectoral work, and they encourage all stakeholders to support and work together to reduce premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

Roadmap

Meanwhile, DOH in celebration of Generics Awareness Month, launched yesterday the national roadmap to strengthen the local generics industry and promote better access to medicines for Filipinos.

DOH Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Secretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, in her keynote speech during the  Generics Summit, emphasized that the government has achieved several milestones in promoting more affordable generics in partnership with the private sector and health providers such as through regulating the prices of high-cost medicines, providing free medicines for the marginalized sectors, evidence-based selection of essential medicines, price transparency, and establishing flexible regulatory mechanisms for health emergencies, among others. — Caecent N. Magsumbol, JMD (FREEMAN)

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