Archive for the ‘health’ Category

CamNorte dad wants all males get circumcised

January 18, 2009

DAET, Camarines Norte — It’s only a matter of time that all males, especially those of pre-teen age, in this province will all be circumcised, preparing themselves for manhood, at least physically and emotionally, once a proposed provincial ordinance is passed that requires all sons of Adam to undergo the Filipino rite of passage.

The two-page measure, ‘An Ordinance Launching the Annual Operation Tuli in the Province of Camarines Norte’ and to be otherwise known as “Tunay na Ulirang Lalake Ordinance” or TULI, was authored by Provincial Board Member Joeffrey B. Pandi.

He said that the local legislation, which has triumphantly hurdled its second reading the other day, is meant “to enhance the physical well-being of a boy or pre-teen, preparing him for early manhood and as a good citizen of his community.”

Pandi has asked the different civic organizations here, like the Rotary Club, Lions, Jaycees, and the Camarines Norte Medical Society to lend their support in the implementation of the soon-to-be-approved ordinance.

Lady members of the provincial board, while giggling over the deliberations of the proposed measure kidded Pandi if he was directing the intent of the ordinance to some male colleagues. “Wala ka bang pinatatamaan sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan?” they asked.

==========

My Take:

I found this local legislation funny.  Pandi is trying to call his proposd measure as TULI yet it is rightly acronymed as TULO (Tunay na Ulirang alaki Ordinance).

Funny!   I suppose he’s a doctor or has received commission for doctors who will do the TULI en masse. Sana ibalik ang tuli sa tabing-ilog.  Yung mga dumaan sa ganun ang talagang tunay na lalaki.  Yun ang tunay na ritwal ng Filipino manhood.

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Ebola virus in pigs may be harmful to humans: expert

January 9, 2009

PANGASINAN — A team of international health experts are in the country for a 10-day research mission to look into the possible effect of Ebola Reston virus strain to humans.

The team said the investigation will determine whether the Ebola Reston virus recently discovered in pigs poses a threat to human health.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

About a dozen experts from the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) were invited to Manila to help the government investigate the virus, first identified in October in the northern Philippines.

The discovery not only marked the first time the virus has been found outside of monkeys, but also the first time it has been found in swine.

Those factors make the mission “particularly important,” said a joint statement by the investigating organizations.

“We hope to identify the risks certainly for animal health and human health, if there are any,” said Dr. Juan Lubroth of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and head of the Manila mission.

Authorities said the Ebola Reston virus – first discovered among crab-eating monkeys south of Manila in 1989 – has caused no known illness among humans.

Ebola’s three other subtypes – the Zaire, Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire strains – can cause deadly hemorrhagic fever in humans, according to WHO.

The 10-day research mission, which started Tuesday, will focus on the source of the virus, how it is transmitted, its virulence, its natural habitat, and the best way to identify it, the experts said.

The Ebola Reston virus was discovered in October while tests were being conducted on samples from pigs that died of another swine disease at two farms in the northern Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the two farms in northern Bulacan and Pangasinan provinces, which have nearly 10,000 pigs, are under quarantine.

Tests in late December on pig samples from the farms were negative of the virus, and no pigs have died of the disease or shown any signs of illness, he said. Bureau of Animal Industry Director Davinio Catbagan said the foreign team would verify the results with the slaughter of about 140 pigs.

“If we do not see the virus on these tissue samples, we can decide to lift the quarantine, and later on (proceed) to a wider surveillance,” he said.

In Lingayen township, another team of the foreign experts proceeded to the Lambino piggery, which was closed by an outbreak of the Ebola Reston virus late last year, located in the village Parian.

The team include William White, senior staff veterinarian of the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in the US; Borris Pavlin, epidemiologist of the WHO communication disease surveillance and response department; and Dr. Kate Glynn of OIE and Mario Musa, communications advisors of the Crisis Management Center-Animal Health Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

Dr. Glynn told Sun.Star that they will evaluate the country’s capacity to deal with Ebola Reston Virus and other zoonotic diseases, and develop protocols, which will guide national response to similar occurrence. (Liway C. Manantan-Yparraguirre/AP/Sunnex)

Seven towns ban fireworks, DOH asks others to follow

December 22, 2008

by Leia Castro

If other towns can do it, why can’t the others? This seems to be the challenge being posed by Department of Health officials to the local executives in the city and the region as five more towns have announced a ban on fireworks.

DOH Iwas Paputok coordinator Elnoria Bugnosen said the towns of Bakun, Buguias, Kabayan, La Trinidad, and Mankayan all in Benguet have already come up with resolutions banning the sale of fireworks to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

Last year, the municipalities of Lagawe in Ifugao and Besao in Mountain Province declared their towns as firecracker-free.

She said that in La Trinidad, mayor Artemion Galwan has also ordered that all government facilities be “firecracker-free.”

She added that if only all government facilities will be firecracker-free then that would definitely add a lot to their Iwas Paputok campaign.

In the Kapihan sa Baguio held last Wednesday, DOH and the police along with fire officials reiterated their call for stopping the use of firecrackers to celebrate the holidays.

The DOH has switched tactic now in their campaign by using gory pictures of amputated fingers, a bloody eye, a torn out cheek, and burned faces of children in their posters along with the slogan:
Ngayong Bagong Taon, gusto mo ba ng saya o disgrasya? Huwag kang magpaputok!”

Paulit-ulit na lang kami nananawa-gan, pero wala pa ring nangyayari,” said Dr. Manuel Quirino, head of the emergency room of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

“Pinaka kawawa yung mga bata na napuputukan dahil namulot ng paputok o binigyan ng parents o uncles o ng ibang matatanda ng paputok para sila ang magpasabog,” he said. “Payo lang namin sa mga matatanda, ’wag na po kayong bumili ng paputok kung ibibigay niyo din lang sa mga bata kapag lasing na kayo.”

Statistics gathered by the DOH regional office from Dec. 21, 2007 to Jan. 4, 2008 show that there were 96 fireworks-related injuries monitored in the region’s 60 hospitals. These were caused mostly by the use of five star, lusis, and kwitis.

(BaguioMidlandCourier)

Asbestos dump hit anew as Lepanto fails to haul out its waste

December 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY—Residents of Sapid, Mankayan, Benguet filed a second petition that pushed town officials to act on the asbestos wastes earlier dumped by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo), after the company failed to fulfill its promise to haul out the toxic materials.

Acting on an earlier petition, town officials contemplated on filing charges against the company. This prompted the said mining firm to haul out said wastes, which turned out to have come from its Makati office.

Community vigilance

Some 115 residents of the said barangay in a petition, asked Mankayan Mayor Manalo B. Galuten and the town council to look into the asbestos wastes left by LCMCo despite the mining company’s commitment to haul out all the said wastes. The petition was dated October 29.

In a report, Sapid barangay council quoted witnesses as saying the wastes were dumped by Shipside Trucking, an LCMCo subsidiary, on April 10 and in 2007 in Sitio Tagumbao, Upper Tram in Barangay Sapid.

Alleging then that the wastes were asbestos materials illegally dumped by the mining company, the Sapid council through Barangay Resolution No. 34-2008 dated April 12, requested LCMCo to “cease unloading or dumping of the waste (asbestos)” in their barangay and to relocate the said wastes to other sites.

Informed about the alleged dumping of asbestos wastes, the Sanguniang Bayan (SB) of Mankayan led by Vice-mayor Paterno Dacanay invited representatives of the mining company to its regular session to shed light on the concern.

Denial

Based on the minutes of the Mankayan SB session on May 6, LCMCo environmentalist Rolando C. Reyes, denied that the wastes dumped were asbestos but materials used for acidic pads and cushions. Reyes assured the members of the SB the wastes are not hazardous in nature. He appeared with Vice-president and resident Manager Magellan G. Bagayao and a certain Edgar Ebiong at the council session.

The pads and cushions came from the company’s Makati City office that was renovated, according to Reyes.

Company representatives also assured the council they complied with policies set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), adding these are properly covered , thus making it safe for the environment.

In a May 7 letter submitted to the SB, the company committed not to repeat the said dumping and should an area be considered as future waste dump, LCMCo would coordinate with town officials concerned before it would begin operating.

Hazardous

Meanwhile, samples taken from the dumpsite were tested by the Environmental and Urban Planning Laboratory of the Saint Louis University Engineering and Architecture department, which later found out that the wastes had an asbestos content of 50.385%.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral usually used for fire proofing and insulation in buildings, pipes, walls, ceilings, floors and others. It is a serious health hazard if inhaled that could cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer that most often occur in the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart, according to Dr. Ana Leung of the Community Health Education Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore).

Asbestos has been internationally banned because of its toxicity.

Charges

Upon learning of the result of the tests, the Mankayan SB through Resolution No. 289-2008, authorized Galuten to file appropriate charges against the mining firm for illegally dumping toxic waste materials in Upper Tram.

Through a series of meetings with the barangay officials and residents, town officials and representatives from the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR, LCMCo volunteered to haul out the asbestos waste materials and to relocate outside the municipality. # Cye Reyes(NorDis)

Ngayong Pasko, ayos lang ang sharing ng regalo, huwag lang ang sharing ng sipon

December 14, 2008

Priscilla Pamintuan

TAGLAMIG na naman. Nakakalimutan man natin minsan na isipin ang Pasko – dahil krisis at halos wala nang tira sa kita para ipagdiwang ito – naaalala natin ang Kristiyanong tradisyong ito dahil sa “lamig ng simoy ng hangin” at dami ng sumisinghot-singhot, umuubo-ubo, nilalagnat-lagnat.
Siyempre, padagdag sa gastusin ang mga gamot tuwing nagkakasakit. Mas mainam nga ang preventive medicine. Sa panahong ito, magandang alalahanin ang ilang tips para makaiwas sa “sakit ng Pasko”:

Ugaliin at siguruhing umiinom na maraming tubig, juice at iba pang inuming may bitamina C. Pinalalakas nito ang immune system mo para maiwasan ang mga sakit tuwing napapadikit sa sipuning pasahero sa dyip o MRT;

  • Iwasang dumikit (laluna humawak, yumakap, humalik) sa isang taong may sipon o lagnat. Mahirap itong gawin dahil nga Pasko. Pero isipin na lamang na may dalawang malaking bagay kang maiisawan. Una, na mahawaan ng sakit niya. Pangalawa, na madagdagan na naman ang inyong anak;

  • Hangga’t maaari, huwag gumamit ng iisang baso, tasa, kutsara’t tinidor, o straw sa isang taong may sipon. Kahit na sa wala. Pero sabi nga, mahirap ito, dahil tayong mga Pinoy ay mahihilig sa sharing – kahit na ang isang plastik ng softdrinks ay pinagpapasa-pasahan sa mga barkada o magkakapatid. Kulang na lang, pagpasa-pasahan pati ang bubble gum o kendi na nasa bibig ng isa;

  • Linisan, is-isin palagi ang mga lugar at bagay na madalas na hinahawakan, nadadantaan, sa bahay. Dito posibleng nalilipat ang mga virus at germs ng mga may sipon, ubo o lagnat. Kadiring ugali ng ilang mga Pinoy ang magpunas ng malikidong kamay sa kung saan-saan. Maging mapamatyag dito;

  • Dahil hindi rin naman natin maiisawang humawak sa kung saan-saan (i.e., hawakan sa dyip, hagdan, handle ng pintuan sa pampublikong lugar, paa ni Santo Niño o ng Nazareno), iwasan na lang ang pagkuti-kuti sa mata, pagpasok ng daliri sa bibig o paglapirot sa ilong.

Siguradong marami pang ibang tips para maiwasan ang sipon at iba pa. Pero ilan na ito sa pinakamagandang payo. Hindi na namin isinama ang mga obvious: halimbawa, huwag lalanghapin ang ubo ng iba. May common sense naman siguro kayo para malaman ang common ways para umiwas sa common cold.

Sundin lang ito, at sundin na rin ang maraming tips para sa malinis na pamumuhay, at mas malaki ang tsansang mabubuhay kayo ng matiwasay, malaya sa sipon, ubo, lagnat, trangkaso. Siyempre, kailangan ding sundin ang iba pang tips para humaba pa ang buhay, tulad ng “huwag tumawid sa kalsada kapag may dumaraang sasakyan.”

PinoyWeekly

Church group backs greens

November 15, 2008

AN ENVIRONMENTAL group opposed to the aerial spraying of pesticides and chemicals has gained an important ally on its fourth day of camping outside the gates of the Court of Appeals (CA).

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Basic Ecclesial Community (CBCP-BEC) pledged its support to the group following an emotional appeal by Dutch national and former priest Arnold Van Vugt to the participants of the 2nd National Congress of the CBCP-BEC at the Chali Beach Resort Thursday.

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Mavic Hilario of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (MAAS) said Van Vugt went to their camp and suggested they seek the support of the Church group. Along with some members of MAAS, Van Vugt then went to the venue where the CBCP-BEC was holding its national congress and spoke on their behalf.

“Nag-pass the hat ang mga bishops and gave what they can and sa awa ng Diyos umabot sa P38,000 ang pera,” Hilario said.

The environmental group started setting up camp outside the appellate court Monday to pressure the justices to hasten its decision on the ban on aerial spraying.

Dubbed by group members as Kalampag or Kamp Alang sa Luwas ug Makinaiyahong Pag-uma, the camp is about 50 meters away from the CA building in Barangay Puntod.

The group’s members are Davao City residents living near banana plantations where aerial spraying is widely practiced. MAAS members say the aerial spraying of pesticides and chemicals has caused of a host of illnesses to plague their communities.

Hilario said they are growing impatient with the way the CA justices are handling their case citing a Supreme Court rule that mandates lower courts to resolve main cases or petitions within six months.

Following that rule, CA should have decided on the constitutionality of the aerial spraying ban ordinance in July this year, said Lia Jasmin Esquillo, executive director of Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Idis) a non-government organization (NGO).

While it was quick to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of the banana growers, the CA seems to be “dragging” the decision of the case, Esquillo said in an earlier statement sent to Sun Star Cagayan de Oro.

The appellate court in January this year issued a writ of preliminary injunction (WPI) on the decision of the lower court upholding the validity of the ordinance.

“July 28 came and went with nary a whimper from the Court of Appeals. Despite three Motions for Urgent Resolution filed by the community interveners urging the CA to abide by the Supreme Court Resolution and to immediately resolve the case considering the grave consequences on people and environment, CA to date still has not yet decided on the case,” Esquillo said.

“This is a stark contrast to their swift granting of a temporary restraining order and WPI to plantation companies on grounds that upholding the ordinance will result to the destruction of many Cavendish bananas,” Esquillo added.

The group set up tent last Monday after making a bold statement saying they are in for a long haul. Group members then chained themselves to the gate of the CA.

“Magbe-breakfast ng rally ang mga Justices dahil kina-career na namin ito at araw-araw namin gagawin,” Hilario told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday.

Hilario said the group will stage mass actions around the city on Monday to seek widespread support and to press for quicker action from the CA.

Seminary refectorian finds can of worms

November 13, 2008

By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:06:00 11/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Worms were found inside a popular canned meatloaf product that was supposed to be served for breakfast to priests at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City last Wednesday.

Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said he saw for himself the can of spoiled Spam Lite Meatloaf.

“I saw it. They were small worms, all over the can. From the outside the can had no defect so you would not know there was something wrong,” he said in an interview.

Spam Lite Meatloaf is a product of Formel Food Corp. and locally distributed by Purefoods Corp.

Hormel Foods could not be reached for comment as of this posting. The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried a toll free number which played back a recorded message that office hours were from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Purefoods Corp. officials were also unavailable for comment at presstime.

According to a report made on Thursday by Church-run Radio Veritas, which Pascual confirmed in an interview, the seminary’s refectorian, Crispinana Pedragoza, bought eight 340-gram tins of Spam Lite Meatloaf from Puregold Price Clubhouse on Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City, last November 4.

The radio report said Pedragoza screamed when she opened one of the cans. She intended to serve the meatloaf with eggs, according to Pascual.

The cans showed an expiry date of August 2011, added Pascual.

He said the spoiled can was brought to the Radio Veritas office while the other seven cans were kept in the seminary.

Radio Veritas said they called up the Bureau of Food and Drugs but were told by division chief Joyce Serunay that the matter fell under the jurisdiction of the National Meat Inspection Service under the Department of Agriculture.

NMIS lawyer Jane Bacayo could not be contacted, said the radio report.

Pascual, who was just one of the many priests staying at the seminary’s Bahay Pari, said authorities should immediately check out the product for the sake of public safety.

He said they would also make a formal complaint to the manufacturer and the distributor of Spam. He said these should make a “public apology” and explain why there were worms in the meatloaf.

“They should check their quality control because the public might buy these (spoiled) products,” he said. With a report from Elizabeth Lacson, Philippine Daily Inquirer

BFAD CONFIRMS Melamine in 2 more ‘Lotte’ products

October 22, 2008

22 other food brands safe

By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 15:22:00 10/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Two more biscuit products of the popular Japanese brand Lotte have been found to contain the industrial chemical melamine, the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) announced Wednesday.

Lotte B+W Koala Biscuit and Lotte Chocolate Snack Koala Biscuit tested positive for melamine, which has been blamed for killing at least four babies and sickening some 54,000 others who drank tainted infant formula in China.

Last week, BFAD said Lotte Strawberry Snack Koala Biscuit tested positive for melamine contamination.

BFAD on Wednesday also declared 22 milk-related products free of melamine, namely:

Angels First Love Barquillos Fresh Milk Wafer Sticks
Barbecue Candy (MM)
Darrys Milk Choco Candy
Golden Fuji Crisp Tomato Flavor Cracker
Golden Fuji Vegetable Flavor Cracker
Houshuang Winter Mint Candy (MM)
KZ Gundam Long Candy
Lipton Milk Tea (Original Flavour) — product of Indonesia
Lipton Milk Tea (Vanilla Flavour) — product of Indonesia
Nice Choice Pineapple Cake
OO Chocolate Bean Candy
Sandwich Biscuits (green wrapper, in Chinese characters)
Sandwich Biscuits (purple wrapper, in Chinese characters)
Sandwich Biscuits (yellow wrapper, in Chinese characters)
Sour Lollipop 2 in 1 (Strawberry, Orange, Pineapple)
Sweet Dart 8.8 Butter Bali Candy
The New Zoland Company Omilk Bonbon Yogurt Milk Soft Drops (grape flavour)
W.L. Sweet Dart Pines Milk Candy
W.L. Sweet Dart Royal Orange Candy
W.L. Yaahoo Cheese Biscuit
Zhongshan Meihua Galletas De Chocola Te Butter with Filling Cake
Zhongshan Meihua Good Taste Sweet-Smelling and Crisp Biscuits (Nutrition Health Foods)

Three other China-made milk products were earlier found to contain high levels of melamine and were banned from the market: Jolly Cow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk (1 liter), Greenfood Yili Fresh Milk and Mengniu Drink.

With the latest results, BFAD has so far cleared 166 dairy products for sale.

Melamine found in biscuit; 34 products hurdle test

October 16, 2008

THE Bureau of Food and Drugs yesterday said it found a fourth product, Lotte Strawberry Snack KOALA biscuit, positive for melamine.

It cleared 34 other products in the fifth batch of results it has so far released. BFAD has conducted tests on 144 products in the past three weeks and is testing around 50 more.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said the agency was trying to complete the tests before the weekend.

The three others earlier found positive were Jollycow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk (more calcium & Vitamin D, 1 liter), Greenfood Yili Fresh Milk and Mengniu Drink.

The cleared products are Arla Instant White Milk Powder Milex 126, Baby Sucker Candy (Smart Plastic Mfg.), Baina Watch Milk Candy, Bainapie Coolmilk Bean, Barbie Milk Candy, Call and Text Candy (Smart Plastic Mfg.), Chang’s Chin Tai Chang Square Cookies, Changtai Food Lollipop Candy, Chaozhou-Zhancui Original Butter Scoth Classic Candy;

Cow’s Head Skimmed Milk Powder (Spray dried process), Dairy Cow Instant Whole Milk Powder, Dongguan Bairong Strawberry Biscuit, Dongguan HSU-CHI Orange Sandwich Cookies, Duke’s Choco Crunch Bar, Erko Marshmallows (Dairy Milk Flavor Filling), Galaxy Sweetened Milk Powder, and H&Y (Healthy & Young) Jollybee Eat & Drink Candy (orange flavor);

Jiayuan Shuang Le Tong Candy, Jollycow Sterilized Milk, Khong Guan Custard Cream Biscuit, Khong Guan Marie Biscuit, Lotte Nidoo Skimmed Milk Powder, MC Nation Confectionary Milky Beans Candy, Milk Land Milk Powder (Sweet Cream Buttermilk Powder), Orion “It’s Now” Custard Cream Cake, Palma Commercial Skimmed Milk Powder, Permen Ancka Rasa Buah Candy Granules;

Red Bull Skimmed Milk Powder, Sam’s Super Man Milk Candy, Strange Biscuit of Common Song/Guava Cookies, Sweetworld Almo Milk Powder Bottle, The New Zoland Company Omilk Bonbon Yogurt Milk Soft Drops (Original Taste), Tiwi Banana Split Chocolate, and Vitasoy Malted Soya Bean Milk.

The government late last month imposed a ban on milk and milk products from China where some 54,000 persons were downed by milk contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastic products. – Gerard Naval(Malaya)

Melamine scare exposes reality of ‘global brands’

October 11, 2008

Behind the melamine milk scandal lies an emerging crisis in corporate branding. One of the reasons for the heavy promotion of “global” brands was so that consumers wouldn’t know (and would eventually stop caring) where products are made. Now with a major food contamination scandal that has killed at least 4 babies in China and sickened thousands, consumers are asking why their favourite “local” ice creams, biscuits and dairy products are made overseas.

The major transnational food companies spent the 1980s in a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions, buying up local brands and grabbing bigger market shares. The takeover boom continued into the first half of the 1990s and was complemented by a massive shift in company financial resources into marketing these brands, building an image and creating consumer loyalty. By the mid-90’s companies like Nestle, Unilever and Kraft had built up extensive brand portfolios and held the largest market shares in a range of food products – everything from cooking oil to ice cream, instant coffee and biscuits. They were also under investigation for monopoly practices and price fixing in several countries as a result.

By the end of the 1990s the new logic of financialization set in. The brands themselves became valuable financial assets and their value could be boosted through a blend of Wall Street wizardry and aggressive marketing rather than better manufacturing. So there was an irrational shift to rationalization: cutbacks, restructuring and consolidation. Less is more. Now fewer brands were better. By focusing on a few global brands in overseas markets the financial value of these brands would skyrocket. Nestle and Unilever called these their “billion dollar brands,” while Kraft would “shrink to grow” – with just 10 global “power brands” by 2008.

With the focus on “global brands” many of the popular local brands bought up in the 1980s and 1990s were sold off or simply disappeared. Local jobs disappeared too with them as plants were closed, merged or sold-off. In some cases the global brand was simply the logo alongside the local brand name … then the name disappeared, and the jobs. Unilever’s “Heartbrand”” ice cream logo, for example, carries global recognition, but is known as “Walls” in the UK and Asia/Pacific regions as well as Selecta (Philippines) , Kwality (India), Algida (Italy), Langnese (Germany) and Kibon (Brazil).

With global brands location no longer mattered. Production was relocated overseas (and relocated again and again), while aggressive brand marketing ensured that consumers continued to believe they were buying a locally made product with a global identity. The locally branded frozen fish stick could make a round trip detour of thousands of kilometers for filleting in China on its way to the supermarket shelf, with no questions asked.

The power of the global brand for companies like Nestle, Unilever and Kraft lies with their ability to shift production to countries like China, while loyal consumers believed it was the same product. As an added bonus, the companies could trumpet their “green” credentials and commitment to tackling global warming while loading up the products with thousands of additional food miles. Behind the familiar local brand stands a caring, concerned global company…

Consumers loyal to the brands would also continue to believe that their favorite Kraft, Nestlé or Unilever products were made by… Kraft, Nestlé or Unilever. The global branding exercise provided a convenient cover for these companies to outsource a significant portion of production to third party contractors, known as “co-packers” , to manufacture their branded products. For example, one of the melamine-contaminat ed Nestlé Purina pet food products recalled in North America last year, after thousands of pets were sickened or died, was made by just such a North American co-packer.

Consumers who knew the reality of subcontracting were nevertheless supposed to derive comfort from the brand owners’ supposed commitment to rigorous quality control. But finance-driven global branding encouraged a tidal wave of casualizing and subcontracting work within the companies’ own operations. Even quality control personnel are managed and hired as casual employees through labour hire agencies. And since they’re not formally employed by the company, they can’t join the union.

The contamination of milk with melamine in China has now exposed the weakness of these powerful global brands. People throughout the Asia/Pacific region are suddenly finding out that their branded biscuits, ice creams and dairy products are made in China. When did that happen? And how long will it take for these products to find their way onto grocery shelves in the rest of the world – if they haven’t already? Meanwhile the companies are rushing to assure consumers that products made outside of China are safe. But who is going to look beyond the global brand to the fine print that reads “Made in …”? Too late. Companies like Nestle and Unilever long ago obscured the meaning of “made in” to refer to anything from packaging to the printing on the package!

Even the brands of companies like Fonterra and Friesland (both dairy cooperatives that went global) could suffer serious damage. Friesland’s Dutch Lady dairy products were pulled off supermarket shelves in Southeast Asia after contamination was found in Singapore. Instead of importing Dutch Lady from nearby Malaysia (where quality control is strictly regulated and the workplace is unionized) Friesland was importing from its factories in China where it has a minority ownership stake. Meanwhile Fonterra is trying to explain why it is Sanlu (its joint venture partner in China) and not Anmum made in New Zealand (strictly regulated quality control and unionized) that is tainted with melamine….

As the contamination scandal grows there is a greater likelihood that consumers will react against the global brand regardless of whether it contains milk or milk powder from China. The global brand will be tainted. Consumers will now associate Oreo (Kraft’s top global “power brand”, recently pulled from the shelves in Singapore after melamine turned up), Friesland’s Dutch Lady and Nestle’s Dreyer’s ice cream with melamine. Expensive and aggressive marketing may fix this. Maybe.

The financial impact of product recalls and lower sales (and possible lawsuits) and new marketing drives will be passed on through the company and won’t be limited to the operations in China. Workers in other countries will face more cost cutting and restructuring as a result.(BicolMail)

HOUSE BUDGET HEARING DoH ‘skewed’ priority hit

October 10, 2008

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:47:00 10/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines –As the House of Representatives deliberates on the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DoH) this Friday, a militant lawmaker criticized its “skewed” priority, which he said prioritized foreign patients.

Deputy Minority Floor Leader and Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo said the DoH budget showed a “skewed investment in government-sponsored medical tourism that targets foreign patients instead of millions of Filipinos who do not have access to quality government health care.”

“The DoH should explain government’s health priorities. They should tell Congress why healthcare is apparently being transformed by government into a money-making venture targeting foreign medical tourists over ordinary Filipinos in dire need of health care,” Ocampo said in a statement.

The DoH has a proposed P27.803 billion allocation for 2009.

Citing a study of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Ocampo lamented that “past and current national health budgets under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program have not changed the general state of disrepair and lack of adequate facilities in public hospitals and government-run health facilities.”

The program got P1.66 billion in 2008 – a whopping 822% increase from its 2007 P180 million allotment.

For 2009, the program will be getting P2.03 billion or a 22.29% increase, the lawmaker said.

“This Health Facilities Enhancement Program only aims to refurbish certain specialty hospitals for the government’s medical tourism agenda. It has the highest appropriation compared to the potable water program (P1.5 billion) and the Tuberculosis Control Program (P1.3 billion) that will go directly to indigent Filipino patients,” he added.

The HEAD study also noted that the 2009 national budget would only give substantial increases to specialty hospitals like the Lung Center of the Philippines (an additional P157.6 million), National Kidney and Transplant Institute (P185 million), Philippine Children’s Medical Center (P236 million), and Philippine Heart Center (P185 million).

Ocampo said the DoH flagship hospital, the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, is only getting P359 million in the 2009 budget. It is much worse for other public hospitals under the DoH, he added.

“Our government doctors and health professionals in HEAD aver that these are the same hospitals earmarked for integration as the ‘Philippine Center for Specialized Healthcare’ in line with the medical tourism program. If the Arroyo administration allocates hefty amounts to specialty hospitals, I do not see any reason why it should not give equal or greater budgets for government medical centers that cater to the general public and indigent Filipino patients,” Ocampo said.

Editorial Cartoon: (Melamine Controversy) Endorser

October 9, 2008

Official

2 MILK PRODUCTS POSITIVE FOR MELAMINE

October 4, 2008

The scare from contaminated China-made milk products has become real for the Philippines, Russia and Vietnam and caused tempers to flare up violently in Taiwan.

Two milk products imported from China and sold in the Philippines have tested positive for melamine, Philippine health officials said Friday. The officials ordered that the products be removed from store shelves immediately.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said authorities suspect that the milk products, under the brand names Greenfood Yili Fresh Milk and Mengniu Original Drink Milk, were illegally smuggled into the country, as they do not have labels in English.

Duque played down any fears of a public-health scare stemming from consumption of the two brands.

He said the government has shut down a Manila supermarket found to be selling the brands.

“There have been no reports coming from our hospitals, whom we ordered to report to us cases of kidney problems that may have some associations with the intake of milk tainted with melamine,” Duque said.

Based on records of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), there is no registered infant formula produced in China being imported into the country.

28 brands cleared

The Health department, meanwhile, cleared 28 other milk products being sold in local stores after tests on them for melamine contamination turned out negative.

These milk products are Anchor Lite Milk, Anlene High Calcium Low Fat milk UHT, Bear Brand instant, Chic Choc milk chocolate, Farmland skim milk, Jinwei Drink, Jolly Cow pure fresh milk, Kiddie Soya Milk Egg Delight, Lactogen 1 DHA infant formula, M&M milk chocolate candies, M&M peanut chocolate candies, Milk Boy, Nestogen 2 DHA follow-up formula, Nestogen 3 DHA follow-up formula, Nido 3+ prebio with DHA, Nido Full Cream milk powder, Nido Jr., No-sugar chocolate of Isomalt 2 Oligosaccharide, Nutri Express milk drink, Pura UHT fresh Milk, Snickers fresh roasted in caramel nougat in thick milk chocolate, Vitasoy soya milk drink, Wahaha Orange, Wahaha Yellow, Want Want Milk Drink, Windmill Skim Milk Powder, Yinlu Milk Peanut, and Yogi Yogurt Flavored Milk Drink.

While these 28 products were already cleared, Duque said the temporary ban would continue on Chinese products particularly those that would still undergo tests.

More tests

The 30 milk products were the first ones tested. Some 20 products are still undergoing tests, results of which will be released early next week.

Duque appealed to private laboratories not to conduct their own testing without coordinating with the Bureau of Food and Drugs first.

He said that the bureau has the only authority to release results of tests for possible melamine contamination of milk products.

The bureau said it plans to test about 200 food products imported from China that contain milk.

Health authorities said they would work with other government agencies to stop the importation and sale of contaminated milk products from China. They also plan to file charges against those who will be arrested selling or distributing such products.

Melamine, an industrial chemical, can cause kidney failure and was blamed for the death of at least four children in China and more than 50,000 others falling ill from it.

Lost revenue

The scare from this chemical has cost the Philippine distributor of the popular Snickers chocolate bar millions.

“We’ve lost P30 million in revenues since the melamine scare started,” Henry Azcarraga, the country head of MARS Inc., told reporters during inspection of the company’s imported products at the Bureau of Customs on Friday.

The bureau held release of MARS’ P5-million worth of imported chocolate products from China pending results of laboratory tests and analyses to be done by health offices.

Azcarraga said the chocolates that MARS distributes in the country have been given clearance by the governments of Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The company is also the local distributor of M&Ms and Dove chocolate bars that are highly popular among children and teenagers.

In September, Manila ordered Chinese-made milk products to be removed from grocery shelves after tests revealed widespread contamination with melamine, which also makes products appear to have more protein.

The move of the Philippines’ Health department to take out from stores contaminated China-made products will not affect trade relations between Manila and Beijing, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said also on Friday.

But Dureza added that China must be more concerned about the issue and should move fast to prevent further exports of the toxic products.

Around the region

In Vietnam, the country’s food-safety watchdog said also on Friday that it had found melamine in 18 milk and dairy products imported from China as well as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The toxin was discovered in milk, creamer and biscuit products, which had all been taken off supermarket shelves, the food safety authority and Health ministry said in statements on their websites.

Chinese milk producer Yili and Malaysian biscuit brands Khong Guan and Khian Guan were among the items containing melamine.

Tropical Vietnam does not have a large dairy industry and imports most milk products from neighboring China and Southeast Asia.

Many parents and kindergartens in Vietnam said they would cut milk from their children’s diet, media reports said.

But the Health ministry said: “Kindergartens and schools are strongly recommended not to cut milk from children’s menu to ensure enough nutrition.”

It has banned milk products of unclear origin and threatened to punish companies violating food hygiene and safety regulations.

In Russia

In Russia, authorities seized 1.7 tons of Chinese milk powder after banning imports over a deadly contamination scandal in the Asian country, Interfax news agency said Friday.

“We found 1.7 tons of dry milk produced in China in [the far eastern city of] Khabarovsk. We are confiscating it,” Russia’s consumer protection chief Gennady Onishchenko was quoted as saying.

The Russian government announced an import ban on all Chinese dairy products on Tuesday.

The restrictions were imposed on reports of the melamine toll on Chinese babies.

Minister attacked

In Taiwan, its Health minister was hospitalized also on Friday after he was allegedly attacked by opposition lawmakers angry over the government’s response to the widening scandal over tainted Chinese milk products, witnesses said.

Television footage broadcast on several networks showed the minister, Yeh Ching-chuan, being surrounded by a group of people, as reporters shouted, “How can lawmakers hit people? Don’t use violence.”

A lawmaker from the ruling Kuomintang at the scene, Chang Sho-wen, said the scuffle erupted when several opposition members of parliament tried to prevent Yeh from leaving the parliament after a meeting with bakery owners and MPs.

Yeh was later hospitalized for heart palpitations and dizziness, said a spokeswoman for the National Taiwan University Hospital.

A public-health expert best known for leading Taipei through the SARS crisis in 2003 as the capital’s deputy mayor, he took over as Health minister last week after predecessor Lin Fang-yue resigned over the tainted milk scandal.

Taiwan has banned all Chinese dairy imports and ordered those products already imported to be tested for traces of melamine.

Yeh said Thursday that six China-produced Nestlé products were pulled from store shelves after they were found to contain low levels of melamine, but insisted the contamination did not pose a significant health risk.

Nestlé Taiwan criticized the move, saying the levels were insignificant and that the government’s decision would cost it at least one billion Taiwan dollars ($31.15 million).
— Rommel C. Lontayao, Angelo S. Samonte, Anthony Vargas And AFP (ManilaTimes)

===========

My Take:

Sec. Duque seems to be building his name for something.  Maybe its 2010 polls, maybe not.  But his recent cries on the Melamine ek-ek shows us that he’s a bit hungry for publicity.  Why don’t he welcome private groups initiative?  After all, the final say will be coming from his office naman eh.  Just asking.

Anyway, he lacks the appeal to win a senatorial race.  If ever he’s doing this for that ends.

2 Chinese products tested positive for melamine

October 3, 2008

MANILA (2nd Update 1:53 p.m.) — The Department of Health (DOH) released Friday names of two milk products from China sold in local supermarkets that contained melamine.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque identified Mengniu Original Drink Milk and Green Food Yili Pure Milk as the two China-made milk products that tested positive of melamine content.

What’s your take on the Mindanao crisis? Discuss views with other readers

Mengniu Dairy Group Co., manufacturer of Mengniu Original Drink Milk and Yili Industrial Group Co., maker of Green Food Yili Pure Milk are China’s two largest dairy producers.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine reported earlier that about 10 percent of liquid milk samples taken from Mengniu Dairy Group Co. and Yili Industrial Group Co. are positive melamine.

The DOH also released 28 milk and milk products that were found negative of melamine contamination.

These products are:
1. Anchor Lite Milk
2. Anlene High calcium low fat milk UHT
3. Bear Brand instant
4. Chic Choc milk chocolate
5. Farmland skim milk
6. Jinwei Drink
7. Jolly Cow pure fresh milk
8. Kiddie Soya Milk Egg Delight
9. Lactogen 1 DHA infant formula
10. M&M milk chocolate candies
11. M&M peanut chocolate candies
12. Milk Boy
13. Nestogen 2 DHA follow-up formula
14. Nestogen 3 DHA follow-up formula
15. Nido 3+ prebio with DHA
16. Nido Full Cream milk powder
17. Nido Jr.
18. No-sugar chocolate of Isomalt 2 Oligosaccharide
19. Nutri Express milk drink
20. Pura UHT fresh Milk
21. Snickers fresh roasted in caramel nogut in thick milk chocolate
22. Vitasoy soya milk drink
23. Wahaha Orange
24. Wahaha Yellow
25. Want want Milk Drink
26. Windmill Skim Milk Powder
27. Yinlu Milk Peanut
28. Yogi Yogurt Flavored Milk Drink

Duque said appropriate charges will be filed against the supermarkets that sold the two Chinese milk products found positive of melamine despite the earlier ban ordered by the health department.

He said the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) will release on Tuesday results of 30 more milk and milk products that were tested for melamine content.

The DOH is testing more than 200 products from China for any presence of melamine, a toxic chemical, which experts said increases the protein level in the baby formula and since it is insoluble protein, it causes precipitates in the kidney.

BFAD Director Leticia Gutierrez said the two milk products from China that contained melamine were smuggled into the country.

Gutierrez explained that the two milk products bare labels in Chinese character, which means that these two were not registered by BFAD.

She further said imported products registered in their office should have English translations of the label. (Sunnex)

CA denies appeal to dismiss case

October 1, 2008

The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the plea of Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. to dismiss the damage suit filed by a Makati City resident who claimed he was enticed by television advertisements to smoke Philip Morris cigarettes that led to his lung cancer in 2000.

In a decision written by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta, the CA said that Judge Winlove Dumayas of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) did not abuse his discretion in denying the cigarette firm’s motion to dismiss the case filed by a certain Vincent Reyes.

In his complaint, Reyes claimed that through television advertisements, he was enticed to smoke Philip Morris since he was 14 years old and by year 2000, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Reyes pleaded the trial court to order Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. to pay him R500,000 in damages.

The cigarette firm sought the dismissal of the complaint before the trial court on the ground of prescription and lack of cause of action.

On Aug. 12, 2005, the RTC dismissed the plea of Philip Morris. It also denied the firm’s motion for reconsideration on Jan. 14, 2006, prompting the firm to elevate the case before the CA.

In resolving the issue, the CA said that based on the pleadings and evidence presented the cause of action had not prescribed.

The appellate court said that the case against Philip Morris could not be dismissed on account of prescription because Reyes filed an amended complaint to correctly indicate the address of the cigarette firm, considering that the original complaint was not served upon Philip Morris because it was no longer holding office at the address indicated in the complaint. (RGP) (ManilaBulletin)

Doctors, journalists asked to meet halfway over prov’l hospital coverage

September 21, 2008

By Leilanie G. Adriano

Staff Reporters

MEDICAL practitioners and media persons covering the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRBASMH), or more popularly known locally as the provincial hospital, have agreed to “meet halfway” in the coverage of hospital-related issues after an official of the said hospital earlier put up a new media policy in the acquisition and dissemination of any information about patients as well as other hospital transactions.

In a dialogue facilitated by Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael M. Keon held September 5 at the hospital’s conference room and attended by members of the local tri-media and chief of hospital Dr. Llewelyn Santos, at least seven media protocols were presented. Beat reporters must abide by the said protocols when obtaining reports.

Journalists however believe that the new media policy came out as a result of the media reporting of an alleged “misconduct and neglect of duty” of a physician in treating a patient. The said physician, identified as Dr. Emma Peña, was suspended barely two months ago by Keon after a complaint was filed against her in 2004 and the subsequent investigation of the said controversy.

In the said new media protocols, media persons are now banned from entering inside the emergency room. They are also prohibited from interviewing patients or their relatives inside wards and treatment areas. A social service room, however, would be made available for possible interviews with patients but this would only be during visiting hours.

Reacting to these new protocols, local media practitioners suggested that the hospital officials amend this for the sake of public interest and the public’s right to information.

They added that while it is true that a patient’s “right to privacy” should be maintained by his physician, local journalists pointed out that should not be prohibited from interviewing, taking pictures and video footages of patients and their relatives if the patient or his relatives give consent.

The new media protocols also effectively advise media practitioners to ask permission from first from the provincial health officer or the chief of hospital before they can obtain news reports from the hospital.

With the stalemate, Keon said both parties should put forth their respective suggestions and then try to meet halfway.

A second dialogue between the parties is being sought but no schedule has been given as of press time.

Keon, for his part, said the media should not be totally banned from gathering information at the hospital except on special cases concerning public health.(Ilocos Times)

Pag-inom habang nasa kolehiyo, masama sa puso?

September 8, 2008

ISANG pagsasaliksik na isinagawa ng American Heart Association (AHA) ang nagbunyag na ang mga kolehiyong estudyante na malakas uminom ay may pagkakataon na ma-doble ang dami ng tinatawag na C-reactive protein (CRP). Ito ay isang biological marker para sa mga pamamaga, at naiuugnay sa mas mataas na tsansa na magkaroon ng cardiovascular problems.

Sa pananaliksik, inilinaw ang terminong heavy drinking bilang pag-inom ng tatlong alcoholic drink tatlong araw sa isang linggo, o limang alcoholic drink dalawang araw sa isang linggo. Kumpara sa moderate drinkers na umiinom lamang ng dalawa hanggang limang bote, sa isa o dalawang araw kada linggo, doble ang dami ng CRP ng malalakas uminom, at naglalagay sa kanila sa katamatamang antas na magkaroon ng problema sa puso.

Hindi pa naman malinaw ang pananaliksik sa pag-uugnay na ang pag-inom habang nasa edad-kolehiyo pa lamang ay direktang naka-ugnay sa agarang pagkakaroon ng cardiovascular problems. Kinakailangan pa ng mas mahabang pananaliksik na kakailanganing sundan ng mga sumailalim sa pananaliksik hanggang umabot ng middle age.

If C-reactive-protein levels are predictive of a future risk of heart disease, then students might be beginning a dangerous pattern, [and that’s a] reason to be concerned about college-age drinking,” ang pagpapaalala ni Elizabeth Donovan, isang undergrad na tumulong sa pagsusulat ng pananaliksik.

Isang doktor naman ang hindi naniwala sa ganitong pananaw ng pananaliksik. Ipinaalala niyang marami pang salik ang nagpaparami ng CRP, tulad ng labis na timbang, paninigarilyo, diabetes, maging ang pagkakaroon ng sipon.

Ang pinakamahalagang abiso niya ay huwag nang isipin nang husto ang pag-inom habang nasa edad-kolehiyo at magtuon sa pag-kontrol sa pag-inom.(PinoyWeekly)

US Anti-Tobacco Group Hails Philip Morris’s Withdrawal from Eraserheads Concert

September 7, 2008

Statement by Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Aug 29, 2008 — For the second time in a month, Philip Morris International has had to withdraw sponsorship and promotion of a concert in a developing country after coming under international criticism for engaging in cigarette marketing that appeals to children.

This time, Philip Morris International has been forced to withdraw from an August 30 reunion concert in the Philippines by the popular Filipino band Eraserheads, which has been called the “Beatles of the Philippines.” The concert is moving forward with a non-tobacco sponsor. In July, Philip Morris International withdrew its sponsorship of singer Alicia Keys’ concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, after it faced public criticism and Ms. Keys called for Philip Morris’ withdrawal.

In the Philippines, Philip Morris International withdrew after health advocates protested the company’s involvement and the Philippines Department of Health warned the company that its sponsorship and related marketing violated the country’s tobacco regulation law. The law prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media including the Internet, places strict restrictions on other tobacco promotional activities, and bans tobacco company sponsorship of concerts and other events.

We applaud the Philippines Department of Health for setting an international example by taking aggressive action to enforce the country’s tobacco control law and protect Filipino children from this blatant effort to market cigarettes to them. With this action, the Philippines government is taking seriously its obligations under the World Health Organization’s international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which among other things calls on ratifying nations to ban all tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships.

Nations should act quickly to implement this and other provisions of the treaty and protect their children from being exposed to the tobacco industry’s insidious marketing tactics. We also call on Philip Morris International and all tobacco companies to immediately stop all tobacco sponsorships and promotions, not just when they are caught red-handed as in the Philippines and Indonesia.

In the United States, Philip Morris USA and other major tobacco companies are prohibited from engaging in brand name sponsorships of concerts under a 1998 legal settlement with the states. However, in developing countries, tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians, which health advocates have condemned as an effective means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising.

In the Philippines, those seeking tickets to the Eraserheads concert had been directed to http://www.marlboro.ph, a web site run by Philip Morris International’s Philippine subsidiary. To receive tickets and information, visitors to the web site had to provide personal contact information that would allow Philip Morris International to send them promotional materials for cigarettes. Additionally, the reunion concert had generated enormous Internet buzz that often mentioned the Marlboro web site and brand name, providing enormous publicity for Philip Morris International’s best-selling cigarette brand.

Based in Washington, DC, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leader in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the United States and around the world. As part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the Campaign works with governments and non-governmental organizations in promoting and implementing public policies to reduce tobacco use. Visit http://www.tobaccofreecenter.org.

Herbicide-laced rice downs 5 Bulacan family members

August 30, 2008

By George Trillo

CALUMPIT, Bulacan – Five members of a family here were rushed to the hospital after eating boiled rice laced with herbicide with cops still trying to determine if foul play was involved.
Efifacio Cruz, chairman of Barangay Frances, identified the victims as Feliciano, Perla, Rex, Ruth, and Ramil, all surnamed Ablaza.

Cruz suspects that the herbicide Machete, used to eliminate weeds in rice fields, was deliberately put in the cooked rice.

A relative of the victims, Manuel Ablaza, 17, who cooked the rice, is now in the custody of the municipal social welfare office.

After eating the rice night of August 15, Manuel’s grandparents Feliciano and Perla, uncles Rex and Ramil, and aunt Ruth started vomiting and experienced dizziness and shortness of breath.
Neighbors rushed them to Our Lady of Mercy General Hospital in nearby Pulilan town.

Feliciano, Rex and Ramil are out of danger, while Perla and Ruth are still in critical condition.
Manuel admitted to newsmen he cooked rice for dinner, but denied that he deliberately laced it with the herbicide.

He said his aunt Ruth was with him when he cooked the rice.

The victims’ relatives recalled that more than a week ago, Manuel’s guardians discovered that they lost pieces of jewelry. The teener’s parents are both working abroad.

They only learned that Manuel allegedly took the jewelry when his classmates reported that he gave away cellular phones in school.

Wastong pangangalaga sa ngipin (Unang bahagi)

August 25, 2008

“Ang tigre ba nagsisipilyo?” Ito ang pabirong sagot ni Mao Tse Tung nang tanungin siya ng mga kritiko kung bakit hindi siya nagsisipilyo. Imbes na gumamit ng toothbrush, nagmumumog siya ng tsaa at ngumunguya ng dahon. Di naglaon, nabulok ang mga ngipin niya.

Paano nga ba alagaan ang ngipin? Nakakatulong ang wastong pagsisipilyo, paggamit ng dental floss, at regular na dental chek-up, para maiwasan ang tooth decay at gum disease. Pero kung wala sa badyet ang pagpapatingin sa dentista, mainam na gumawa na agad ng paraan bago pa magsimulang magkaroon ng mga cavity ang ngipin.

Pagtanggal sa plaque

Para maiwasan ang mga cavity kailangang tanggalin ang plaque, isang transparent na bacteria na kumakapit sa ngipin. Magagawa ito sa pamamagitan ng pagsisipiliyo nang dalawang beses sa isang araw, at ng paggamit ng dental floss matapos kumain. Mahalaga ang pagsisipilyo at paggamit ng dental floss sa pagpapanatiling malusog ang mga ngipin at gilagid.

May lamang abrasives, detergents, at foaming agents ang sipilyo. Flouride ang pinakaaktibong sangkap ng toothpaste na lumalaban sa cavity. Dapat siguraduhing may fluoride ang toothpaste na ginagamit.

Isa sa sampung tao ang may tendensiyang magkaroon agad ng tartar. Ang tartar ay nanigas na plaque na mas mapanira sa ngipin, at mas mahirap tanggalin. Nakakatulong sa ang paggamit ng anti-tartar na sipilyo at mouthwash, at ang mas matagal na pagsisipilyo sa mga ngipin malapit sa salivary glands (sa loob ng lower front teeth at sa labas ng upper back teeth) para magpapabagal ang pagkakaroon ng panibagong tartar.

Tips sa pagsisipilyo

Sinasabi ng mga dentista na dalawang beses sa isang araw, at may tagal na dalawang minuto, ang panahong dapat inilalaan sa pagsisipilyo. Ito ang ilang tips kung paano magsipilyo:

– Hawakan ang sipilyo sa 45-degree angle. Marahang magsipilyo mula sa bahaging nagtatagpo ang gilagid at ngipin hanggang sa chewing surface. Maaaring magdulot ng receding na gilagid, pagkasensitibo ng ngipin, at pagkabungi sa hinaharap ang masyadong mariing pagsisipilyo.

– Ulitin ang parehong proseso sa pagsisipilyo ng panloob at panlabas na surface ng ngipin.

– Para linisin ang mga chewing surface, gumamit ng mga short sweeping stroke, at padaanin ang bristles sa mga lubog at uka ng ngipin.

– Para linisin ang mga inside surface ng top at bottom front teeth at ng gilagid, hawakan nang pahalang ang sipilyo. Gamit ang back-and-forth motion, padaanin ang harap ng brush sa ibabaw ng ngipin at gilagid.

– Gumamit ng forward-sweeping motion, marahang sipilyuhin ang dila, at ang ngala-ngala para matanggal ang mga decay-causing bacteria na matatagpuan dito.

-Siguraduhing aabot sa dalawa hanggang tatlong minuto ang pagsisipilyo.

(May karugtong)(PinoyWeekly)

Women condemn ‘Vitameal’

August 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — A new feeding program has come to provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) that aims to to correct any nutrient deficiencies and thereby promote healthy growth and development. A women’s group, however, criticized it.

Named “Vitameal,” it is supposedly a new hope for nutritionally challenged children in the Cordilleras. This school year, provinces in CAR started receiving their rations of Vitameal thru day care and Grade One pupils.

At the Innabuyog regional council meet last August 15, members from all around the region had raised their qualms about the product.

“Mapait. Medyo sweet and sour. Lasang betsin. Ayaw kainin ng mga bata, kaya kailangan pa naming gumastos para sa ihahalo namin para kainin nila,” (It tastes bitter, with a hint of sweet and sour and it also tastes of monosodium glutamate. The children do not like it. We have to buy additional ingredients for them to eat it) said Estrell Balutoc of Innabuyog – Abra

Carol Bagyan of Innabuyog – Kalinga said, “Palitan kaming mga magulang ng pagluto. Pakukuluan namin at hahaluan ng iba-ibang sangkap.” (Paarents take turns cooking. We boil it and add in different ingredients)

Parents are enforced to add supplemental ingredients to the Vitameal since children do not seem to favor its taste. “Nagdadagdag pa kami ng malagkit, asukal, tsokolate, para kainin ng mga bata yung Vitameal,” (We have to add in glutinous rice, sugar, cocoa, just so the kids would eat this Vitameal”) added Bagyan.

Parents are suspicious of this Vitameal program as the servings given to the children were without a decent packaging. Not even a label for parents to be informed of its ingredients. “Natatakot kami at baka may GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) iyan.” (We fear it may contain GMOs) said Zenaida Hangdaan of Innabuyog – Ifugao

Parents also claimed that upon asking the teachers in charge of the Vitameal’s distribution of its ingredients and the nutrients that their children should be able to absorb from it, the teachers responded that they did not know exactly what this contain.

“The whole nation is stricken by hunger and poverty whether Malacañang accepts it or not” says Innabuyog Chairperson Vernie Yocogan- Diano.

“Her hunger mitigation programs are actually just dole outs that attempt to sugarcoat the worsening poverty. Her feeding program does not even reach the poorest of the poor, who are in most need of help. This is just another opportunity for graft and corruption to take place,” she added.

Innabuyog states that what should be pursued are long-term policies toward genuine agrarian reform and agricultural development, job creation and a national policy for health care and education. # Myko Chiong(NorthernDispatch)

Editorial Cartoon: On the Eresarheads-Phillip Morris Concert

August 17, 2008

The New Music of E-Heads

Advertising and Promotion of Tobacco Encourage Smoking Among Youth: Study

August 17, 2008

(The report below is from The International Tobacco-Control Network and was prepared by Ronald M. Davis, M.D. in 1998. Dr. David was the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention of the Henry Ford Health System in the United States.)

CONTENTS

1. Background and author’s qualifications
2. How tobacco advertising and promotion affect tobacco consumption
3. Evidence that advertising and promotion affect overall tobacco consumption
4. Countries with tobacco advertising bans have lower consumption (or slower increases in consumption) than those without bans
5. Tobacco advertising and promotion have material effects on children and adolescents
A. Tobacco advertising and promotion reach children and adolescents
B. Tobacco advertising and promotion increase tobacco use by children and adolescents

# Cross-sectional studies
# Longitudinal studies
# Relationship between cigarette advertising and brand preference among youth
# Other evidence
# Billboards represent a particularly effective and intrusive medium for advertising in general, and for promotion of cigarettes in particular (especially to children)

1. Billboards are a favorite medium for tobacco advertising
2. Billboards are intrusive and cannot be avoided
3. Billboards are in people’s neighborhoods and are constantly exposing youth and adults to unsolicited messages
4. Billboards in urban, inner-city environments are more likely to carry tobacco and alcohol advertisements, often targeted to racial and ethnic minorities

# Conclusions

1. Conclusions of the 1994 Surgeon General’s report
2. Conclusions of the Food and Drug Administration
3. My own conclusions

# References
# Appendix. Author’s biographical sketch

I. Background and author’s qualifications

I have been asked by the City of Chicago Law Department to provide an expert opinion on issues related to the effects of tobacco advertising and promotion on youth, and the importance of legislation that would restrict the placement of tobacco billboards within the city. I have also been asked to describe my qualifications to render these opinions, and my involvement as an expert witness in other tobacco-related litigation.

A biographical sketch is attached as an Appendix to this report. It summarizes my professional career. A longer and more detailed curriculum vitae has also been made available. In brief, I am a physician with board certification in preventive medicine, and an epidemiologist trained at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). My current position is Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System, a large managed care organization in Southeast Michigan serving approximately 850,000 residents of the state. I was Chief Medical Officer for the Michigan Department of Public Health from 1991 to 1995, and Director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health from 1987 to 1991. I currently serve as chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs, and I am editor of Tobacco Control, an international journal published quarterly by the British Medical Association.

In this report, per the request from the City of Chicago Law Department, I will focus primarily on the epidemiologic evidence related to the effects of tobacco advertising and promotion on youth. I will not review in any detail the evidence on the psychosocial effects of advertising and promotion (e.g., how the imagery and messages in tobacco advertising appeal to the developmental needs of youth). Nor will I review the many industry documents that have come to light in recent months and years that bear upon this issue.

I will base my opinions on my background as a physician, as an epidemiologist, as one who has conducted substantial research on tobacco advertising and promotion for at least a dozen years, and as one who has worked extensively in the field of tobacco and health during the past two decades. The research I have performed is documented in the journal articles I have published, which are listed in my curriculum vitae.

Two roles in particular have put me in a position where I have been exposed to a breadth of information on this subject. One of these was my tenure as director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, which is the lead federal office relating to tobacco and health. The Office produces the annual Surgeon General’s reports on smoking and health, which use a rigorous peer-review process in summarizing the scientific literature in the field, and maintains the world’s largest bibliographic database containing technical material on the subject.

The other important role is my service, since 1992, as editor of Tobacco Control, which is the only journal in the world devoted to this subject. Serving as editor has ensured my awareness of the pertinent research being conducted in the field.

I have served as an expert witness in several other tobacco-related lawsuits, including the State Attorney General lawsuits filed in Mississippi, Texas, and Washington State, and the Broin and Engle class actions filed in Florida.

An important role for an epidemiologist — and a physician specializing in preventive medicine — is to identify the antecedents or determinants of disease. Eliminating or reducing those antecedents will then reduce the incidence or prevalence of disease. In this case, we know that smoking is a major antecedent in the causation of numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and stroke. We can extend this process further by assessing the antecedents or determinants of behavioral risk factors for disease, such as smoking. As indicated by the evidence reviewed in this report, exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion is an antecedent in the initiation of smoking among youth.

II. How tobacco advertising and promotion affect tobacco consumption

The 1989 Surgeon General’s report “The Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress”1 reviewed the mechanisms by which tobacco advertising and promotion may affect tobacco consumption. Four direct mechanisms by which advertising and promotion may increase tobacco consumption were discussed:

1. Advertising and promotion could encourage children or young adults to experiment with tobacco products and initiate regular use;
2. Advertising and promotion could increase tobacco users’ daily consumption of tobacco products by serving as a cue to tobacco use.
3. Advertising and promotion could reduce current tobacco users’ motivation to quit.
4. Advertising and promotion could encourage former smokers to resume smoking.

The Surgeon General’s report also discussed several indirect mechanisms by which advertising and promotion might increase tobacco consumption. One of these is that “the ubiquity and familiarity of tobacco advertising and promotion may contribute to an environment in which tobacco use is perceived by users to be socially acceptable, or at least less socially objectionable and less hazardous than it is in fact.”

The report reviewed the evidence bearing on these effects. Although it concluded that no single study would be likely to provide a definitive answer to the question of whether advertising and promotion increase the level of tobacco consumption, the report noted that “The most comprehensive review of both the direct and indirect mechanisms concluded that the collective empirical, experiential, and logical evidence makes it more likely than not that advertising and promotion activities do stimulate cigarette consumption.”

Substantial research on the effects of cigarette advertising and promotion has been conducted and published since the release of that report in 1989. As a result, the Surgeon General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have extended and strengthened their conclusions about the effects of advertising and promotion on smoking behavior, particularly in regards to children and adolescents. These stronger and more recent conclusions were published in the Surgeon General’s 1994 report on smoking and youth (see Section VI (A) below)2 and by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in documents related to its rule-making on tobacco sales and marketing.3,4

My own conclusions are similar to those of the Surgeon General, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration. Tobacco advertising and promotion do indeed stimulate cigarette consumption, especially among youth.

III. Evidence that advertising and promotion affect overall tobacco consumption

Several time-series studies have assessed the relationship between tobacco consumption and tobacco advertising expenditures. Simply put, time-series analysis is the study of observations taken in a series of instances over time. It often uses statistical techniques such as multiple regression, a method for distinguishing among competing and simultaneous influences on the end result (tobacco consumption, in this case). It has been used to assess the relationship between tobacco advertising expenditures and tobacco consumption over time, taking into account (”controlling for”) other potential influences on consumption such as price and income.

The Economics and Operational Research Division of the British Department of Health (in the “Smee Report”) analyzed the results of 19 time-series studies of cigarette advertising, including seven in the U.S., seven in the United Kingdom, two in New Zealand, and one each in Australia and West Germany.5 They found that 13 studies showed positive results (i.e., that higher advertising expenditures are associated with higher tobacco consumption), one showed negative results, and five showed both positive and negative results. The main findings of their review were as follows:

“Year-to-year variations in advertising expenditure within countries: there are many studies of this type, both for the UK and for other countries, particularly the US. Details of the analysis vary from one study to another, but the basic approach is to model the demand for tobacco products by relating annual changes in consumption to corresponding changes in advertising expenditure and in other variables such as price and income. Some studies have found that advertising has a statistically significant effect on consumption; others, including our own study, have not. There are several possible reasons for failure to find a statistically significant effect of advertising, including data imperfections and the inherent difficulty of identifying the separate effect of advertising when this is only one of many potential influences on smoking behaviour. Taken together, however, the studies point to a more decisive result. Because the studies differ in specification and data, a range of results is always to be expected. If, however, advertising genuinely has no effect on consumption, it would also be expected that the number of studies reporting positive and negative results would be much the same; in other words, some studies would show that advertising increases consumption, but others that advertising reduces consumption. In practice this symmetry is not observed; the great majority of results point in the same direction — towards a positive impact. The balance of evidence thus supports the conclusion that advertising does have a positive effect on consumption.”

Andrews and Franke6 conducted a meta-analysis of 48 time-series studies of tobacco advertising and sales, which covered the period from 1933 to 1990. Twenty-five of the studies were based on U.S. data and another 13 used data from the U.K. The weighted mean advertising elasticity was positive and significantly different from zero, meaning that higher advertising expenditures were associated with higher levels of cigarette consumption. These findings are especially impressive given a basic limitation of such studies — they assess the effects of the annual fluctuations in advertising expenditures, which “presumably relate to the least productive slice of expenditure, on the reasonable assumption that advertising is subject to diminishing returns.”5 One would expect a much greater impact from a total ban on advertising, or from a ban on a particular method or medium of advertising (e.g., billboards) — “which cuts away the most effective core of advertising”5 — than from marginal changes in total advertising expenditures from year to year.

In a 1989 review of 14 time-series studies, the New Zealand Toxic Substances Board found that 11 of the studies showed that tobacco advertising significantly affected national cigarette sales.7 The Board concluded that

“Advertising is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked; increased advertising means more cigarettes smoked, and less advertising means fewer smoked…. The effect of advertising on cigarette consumption can be substantial…. [E]ven a 10 percent rise in advertising will tend to increase consumption by 0.7 percent, that is by 37 million cigarettes [in New Zealand] in a year…. Changes in cigarette consumption of this magnitude will produce significant changes in death rates. This can be deduced from the high numbers exposed to the risk, the intensity and duration of that exposure, and the high relative risks for smokers of a number of common and serious diseases.”7

IV. Countries with tobacco advertising bans have lower consumption (or slower increases in consumption) than those without bans

The New Zealand Toxic Substances Board commissioned a study on the relationship between tobacco advertising and tobacco consumption between 1970 and 1986 in 33 countries with varying levels of controls on advertising. The study, published in the 1989 report7 referred to above, classified countries into four main categories: those allowing tobacco advertising in all media, in most media, or in a few media, and those not allowing tobacco advertising in any media. Countries prohibiting all tobacco advertising were further subdivided into countries not allowing tobacco advertising for “health reasons” and those not allowing tobacco advertising for “political reasons” (i.e., centrally planned Eastern European economies that did not, during the study period, permit advertising of consumables, including tobacco).

The New Zealand study found a clear pattern between rate of change in tobacco consumption and the restrictiveness of controls on advertising. In countries allowing tobacco advertising in all media, per capita tobacco consumption increased annually by 1.7% on average. Consumption decreased on average by 0.4% annually in countries with partial bans on advertising, and by a similar amount in countries that had banned advertising of any kind for political reasons. Consumption fell annually by 1.6% on average in countries that had banned all tobacco advertising for health reasons. Furthermore, the study found that the percentage of young people who smoke had decreased more rapidly in countries where advertising had been totally banned or severely restricted, than in countries where tobacco promotion had been less restricted.

A later study, published in the British Journal of Addiction,8 used a pooled cross-sectional time-series analysis to examine the relationship among tobacco advertising restrictions, price, income, and tobacco consumption in 22 OECD countries from 1960 to 1986. (See Section V. B. below for a definition of “cross-sectional.”) The investigators found that tobacco advertising restrictions after 1973 were increasingly associated with lower tobacco consumption.

The “Smee Report”5 (mentioned above) reviewed trends in smoking in four countries that banned tobacco advertising: Norway, Finland, Canada, and New Zealand. It reached the following conclusion:

“Though there are qualifications (for example, the bans in Canada and New Zealand are relatively recent and so may not yet have had their full impact), the current evidence available on these four countries indicates a significant effect. In each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot reasonably be attributed to other factors.”

Based on this evidence, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came to the following conclusion in promulgating its rules on tobacco sales and marketing:

“FDA finds that the international experience provides empirical evidence that restrictions on tobacco advertising, when given appropriate scope and when fully implemented, will reduce cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among children and adolescents under the age of 18.”9

These findings from country-level data, described above in Sections III and IV, have been confirmed by studies on the effects of cigarette advertising at a “micro” level — i.e., involving individuals — as described below.

V. Tobacco advertising and promotion have material effects on children and adolescents

A. Tobacco advertising and promotion reach children and adolescents

In considering the effects of tobacco advertising on children and adolescents, the first issue to address is whether advertising and promotion reach children and adolescents. Although the tobacco and advertising industries deny that advertising is targeted to children — denials that are contradicted by internal industry documents that have surfaced in recent years — the key question is whether minors are exposed to advertising. Substantial evidence indicates clearly that they are indeed so exposed.

An example of a study confirming the exposure of children to tobacco advertising was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Investigators showed that 91% of six-year-old children from five different states correctly matched a picture of “Joe Camel” with a picture of a cigarette, similar to the percentage who recognized the logo of the Disney Channel (a silhouette of Mickey Mouse).10

Confirmatory evidence came from two studies funded by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR). One of these studies found that 72% of six-year-olds and 52% of children aged 3-6 years could identify Joe Camel.11 The other study, conducted for RJR by Roper Starch, surveyed more than 1,000 children aged 10-17. Of these children, 86% recognized Joe Camel, in both aided and unaided recall, 95% of whom knew that he sold cigarettes.12

Further evidence derives from studies measuring children’s recognition of cigarette brands, models, logos, and slogans in cigarette advertisements in which identifying information has been obscured. Another study published in JAMA found that students in grades 9-12 in five different states were much more likely than adults to recognize Joe Camel as a character whom they had seen before, and to identify the products being advertised and the brand name of the product.13 In a study of 11- to 14-year-olds in Australia, Chapman and Fitzgerald found that children who reported smoking in the last four weeks were almost two times more likely to correctly identify the edited advertisements and to complete the slogans than were children who reported not having smoked during that period.14 Similar findings have been reported from Georgia,15 Massachusetts,16 and North Carolina17 (USA); the United Kingdom; 18-20 and Hong Kong.21

Additional evidence that tobacco promotions reach children and adolescents comes from studies showing that many youth obtain and use merchandise from “cigarette continuity programs” (e.g., Camel Cash, Marlboro Miles).22-25 Much of this merchandise bears cigarette brand names, such that children become, in essence, walking billboards by wearing Camel T-shirts, Marlboro caps, and so on. These programs are advertised heavily on billboards, as demonstrated by a photograph I took of a billboard for Marlboro Gear (in front of a Toys “R” Us store and a Chuck E Cheese’s Pizza establishment), which was reproduced with an editorial I wrote on the subject.13c

Exposure of children and adolescents to cigarette advertising and promotion is not surprising given the ubiquity of, and heavy expenditures for, these marketing activities. In recent years, cigarette companies have spent more than $5 billion per year ($160 per second) to advertise and promote cigarettes.27 Children and adolescents are exposed to most of the media used for tobacco advertising (especially billboards — see Section VI below).

The Institute of Medicine, in an expert committee report entitled “Growing Up Tobacco Free,” reviewed the evidence on the extent of tobacco advertising and its effects on youth.28 With respect to youth exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion, it concluded:

“Tobacco advertising is characterized by images and themes that are especially appealing to adolescents, and some are appealing to children. In addition, a large proportion of promotional expenditures associate use of tobacco with activities and products that are attractive to children and youths. The sheer amount of expenditures for advertising and promotion assures that young people will be exposed to these messages on a massive scale. It is clear that society’s efforts to discourage young people from smoking are obstructed — and perhaps fatally undermined — by the industry’s efforts to portray their dangerous products in a positive light.”

B. Tobacco advertising and promotion increase tobacco use by children and adolescents

1. Cross-sectional studies

Many cross-sectional studies have found that smoking status and smoking initiation among youth are correlated with awareness, recognition, and approval of tobacco advertisements and promotions; exposure to tobacco advertisements and promotions; “receptivity” to tobacco advertising and promotion; receipt or ownership of tobacco promotional items; and a feeling that cigarette ads make them want to smoke a cigarette.13, 25, 29-38

Cross-sectional studies evaluate correlations at a single point in time. Although the correlations between smoking behavior and cigarette advertising in these studies are compelling when considering the total body of evidence — which includes many different study designs, study populations, and investigators — the cross-sectional nature of these studies does not allow a definitive conclusion about the direction of causality. For example, if a cross-sectional study shows that teenage smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to “like” cigarette ads, two explanations (with opposite directions of causality between the associated variables) are possible: a) teens who like cigarette ads are more likely to become smokers over time than teens who don’t like the ads; or b) teens who become smokers are more likely to develop a liking of the ads than teens who don’t become smokers. Longitudinal studies, which assess correlations at two or more points in time, can determine the temporal relationship between two associated variables, and hence the causal relationship between the two. Two longitudinal studies of youth smoking in relation to tobacco advertising are described below.

2. Longitudinal studies

Two important longitudinal studies followed up on earlier cross-sectional investigations. In a cross-sectional survey of 6000 primary school children (10-12 years old) in New South Wales, Australia, the children were asked whether cigarettes should be advertised. Logistic regression was used to determine the relative importance of several factors, including approval of cigarette advertising, in relation to the children’s smoking status. Approval of advertising was the second most important predictor of smoking status, after friends’ smoking behavior but ahead of siblings’ smoking behavior, amount of money available to spend weekly, sex, age, and parents’ smoking status.29

The investigators then assessed changes in smoking behavior over 12 months among these 6000 children in a longitudinal study design.39 This design allowed the investigators to assess the strength of the association between several personal and social variables and the process of adopting or quitting smoking. Four study groups were defined: a) children who became smokers (adopters); b) those who remained nonsmokers; c) those who became nonsmokers (quitters); and d) those who remained smokers. As noted by the authors, “Children who approved of cigarette advertising were twice as likely to become smokers as children who disapproved, with the smoking behaviour of those who were ambivalent about advertising falling between that of the other two groups.” The smoking adoption rate per 100 children was 27.0 for those approving of cigarette advertising, 12.1 for those not approving, and 19.3 for those who said they “don’t know,” a difference which was highly statistically significant (p < 0.001). Similarly, children who disapproved of cigarette advertising were significantly more likely to quit smoking than those who approved of it.39

Pierce and colleagues have also used both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs to establish the relationship between cigarette advertising and smoking initiation among youth. They have defined constructs for “susceptibility to smoking” and “receptivity to tobacco marketing.” With regard to the former, adolescents with no smoking experience are asked two questions to probe the likelihood of future smoking: “Do you think you will try a cigarette soon?” and “If one of your best friends were to offer you a cigarette, would you smoke?” Any answer other than “no” or “definitely not” to both questions results in classifying an adolescent as susceptible to smoking.34

In an earlier cross-sectional study, Evans et al. defined an “Index of Receptivity to Tobacco Marketing.”34 The index was based on the total score from five items: a) whether the adolescent felt that a tobacco advertisement contained at least one of nine messages (e.g., smoking is enjoyable, it helps people relax, it helps people stay thin); b) whether the adolescent could name a cigarette brand in response to either of two questions — “What is the name of the cigarette brand of your favorite cigarette advertisement?” and “Of all the cigarette advertisements you have seen, which do you think attracts your attention the most?”; c) whether the adolescent could name a cigarette brand in response to the question “If you wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes tomorrow, what brand do you think that you would buy?”; d) whether the adolescent said “yes” to the question “Have you ever bought or received for free any product which promotes a tobacco brand or was distributed by a tobacco company?”; and e) whether the adolescent said “yes” to the question “Do you think that you would ever use a tobacco industry promotional item such as a T-shirt?”

Using data from 3,536 adolescent never-smokers from the 1993 California Tobacco Survey in a cross-sectional, logistic regression analysis, Evans et al. found that receptivity to tobacco marketing was independently associated with susceptibility to smoking, after adjustment for sociodemographic variables (including age, sex, and race/ethnicity) and perceived school performance. Adolescents who scored 4 or more on the Index of Receptivity to Tobacco Marketing were 3.91 times more likely to be susceptible to smoking than those who scored 0. Even adolescents who scored 2 on the Index were twice as likely to be susceptible.34

Pierce et al.40 extended these findings in a longitudinal study design. A total of 1,752 of the adolescents who were not susceptible to smoking when first interviewed in 1993 were re-interviewed in 1996. In a measure of receptivity to tobacco marketing similar to that used by Evans et al,34 Pierce et al. defined receptivity as minimal if the respondent did not name a brand when asked to identify the brand advertised the most on billboards or in magazines recently seen. If respondents also had a favorite advertisement, they would be considered to have moderate receptivity. Respondents who said that they had bought or received a promotional item from a tobacco company, or that they would ever use a promotional item, were classified as highly receptive to advertising. Pierce and colleagues then investigated the progression toward smoking of the non-susceptible never-smokers.

In a logistic regression analysis of predictors of which adolescents progressed toward smoking, Pierce et al. found that

“The baseline receptivity (in 1993) to tobacco industry promotional activities was strongly related to which adolescents progressed toward smoking. Among those who were assessed as having a minimal level of receptivity, 37.7% progressed toward smoking. Compared with this group, those who had a favorite advertisement but who were not willing to use a promotional item (the moderate level) were 82% more likely to progress toward smoking, which is a statistically significant increase compared with those at the minimal level. Those with a high level of receptivity (at least willing to use a promotional item) were almost 3 times more likely to progress toward smoking, which was highly statistically significant.”40

The authors estimated that 34% of all smoking experimentation in California between 1993 and 1996 can be attributed to tobacco promotional activities, translating to experimentation by 700,000 adolescents nationally.40

In summary, the evidence from these two longitudinal studies39, 40 extends the findings from many cross-sectional studies, and confirms that awareness and approval of tobacco advertising and promotion, and “receptivity” to tobacco marketing, are causal factors in smoking initiation among youth.

3. Relationship between cigarette advertising and brand preference among youth

Another line of evidence indicating the effect of tobacco advertising and promotion on youth is the relationship between cigarette advertising and brand preference among youth. In a study of students in two junior high schools in the Chicago area, seventh- and eighth-grade children who smoked were asked to view a series of cigarette advertisements and to rate how much they “liked” each ad. The investigators found that the students’ cigarette buying preferences closely paralleled the perceived appeal of the cigarette advertisements.41

Particularly compelling evidence is the huge increase in teenage use of Camel cigarettes coinciding with R.J. Reynolds’ youth-oriented “Joe Camel” advertising campaign.13, 42 – 44 Furthermore, studies have shown that youth find Joe Camel to be appealing.13, 41 Similarly, tobacco advertising campaigns targeting women beginning in the late 1960s (i.e., Virginia Slims) were associated with a major increase in smoking initiation among adolescent girls.45 In general, the brand choices of adolescent smokers reflect the brands with the largest advertising budgets.43, 44 Especially noteworthy is the finding by Pollay and colleagues that the relationship between brand choices and brand advertising is about three times stronger among teenagers than among adults.46 Based on this area of research, the FDA came to the following conclusion:

“… these studies are evidence that, when considered together, form a coherent pattern that establishes the role that advertising plays in young people’s smoking behavior.”47

4. Other evidence

King et al. showed that cigarette brands popular among adolescent smokers are more likely than “adult brands” to be advertised in magazines with high youth readerships.48 This suggests that exposure to advertising affects smoking behavior and cigarette brand preference among youth.

The evidence summarized in this section (V. B), taken as a whole, makes a persuasive case that tobacco advertising and promotion increase tobacco use among children and adolescents.

VI. Billboards represent a particularly effective and intrusive medium for advertising in general, and for promotion of cigarettes in particular (especially to children)

There are a number of reasons why tobacco billboards warrant special concern with respect to their impact on youth:

1. billboards are a favorite medium for tobacco advertising;
2. billboards are intrusive and cannot be avoided;
3. billboards are in people’s neighborhoods and are constantly exposing youth and adults to unsolicited messages; and
4. billboards in urban, inner-city environments are more likely to carry tobacco and alcohol advertisements, often targeted to racial and ethnic minorities.

A. Billboards are a favorite medium for tobacco advertising.

There are two ways in which we can look at expenditures for tobacco advertising on billboards. The first is the proportion of total tobacco marketing expenditures devoted to billboards. This gives us a measure of how important billboards are in tobacco company marketing efforts. The second is the proportion of total advertising in various media devoted to tobacco. This gives us a measure of the extent to which tobacco advertising dominates those media.

According to data submitted by tobacco companies to the Federal Trade Commission, the companies have used outdoor media heavily through the years in comparison to other print media. In 1996, the last year for which data are available, cigarette companies spent $292 million on advertising in outdoor media in the United States (5.7% of total cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures for that year), compared to $253 million (4.9%) for advertising at the point of sale, $243 million (4.8%) in magazines, $28.9 million (0.6%) in transit media, and $14.1 million in newspapers (0.3%).27 In other words, billboards continue to be a preferred medium for print advertising of cigarettes.

If we consider total advertising expenditures for different media, we see that tobacco advertising has dominated outdoor media to a far greater extent than it has other print media. My own research showed that in 1985, cigarette advertising expenditures accounted for more than one-fifth (22.3%) of all advertising in outdoor media ($210.8 million out of a total of $945 million), compared to 7.1% for magazines ($367.1 million out of a total of $5.155 billion) and 0.8% for newspapers ($199.8 million out of a total of $25.17 billion). In 1984, the figures were 21.1%, 8.4%, and 1.0%, respectively. In 1985, cigarettes were the most heavily advertised product or service in outdoor media, the second most heavily advertised in magazines (after passenger cars), and the third most heavily advertised in newspapers (after passenger cars and airlines). Of the seven companies with the largest advertising expenditures in outdoor media in 1985, six were cigarette companies. Also in that year, tobacco advertising expenditures for “eight-sheet” (5 by 11 feet) billboards were $7.8 million — about half the total expenditures for that medium ($15.6 million).49

A subsequent analysis for the year 1988 showed that cigarettes remained the most heavily advertised product or service in outdoor media, compared to a ranking of second in magazines (after passenger cars) and sixth in newspapers. In 1988, cigarette advertising expenditures accounted for 16.9%, 5.7%, and 0.4% of total advertising expenditures in outdoor media, magazines, and newspapers, respectively.50 As these figures show, billboards remained a favorite medium for cigarette advertising, even though the tobacco industry was gradually shifting its marketing dollars from traditional forms of print advertising into promotional activities such as distribution of free samples and coupons, sponsorship of sporting and entertainment events, value-added offers (e.g., buy one, get one “free”).49, 50

B. Billboards are intrusive and cannot be avoided.

In Packer Corp v State of Utah,51 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld legislation in the state of Utah that prohibited all tobacco advertising in outdoor media and at the point of sale, against a challenge based on the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. In its opinion, the Court approvingly cited a passage from the Utah Supreme Court’s decision upholding that law,51 (page 110) which speaks to the intrusiveness of billboards:

“Billboards, street car signs, and placards and such are in a class by themselves…. Advertisements of this sort are constantly before the eyes of observers on the streets and in street cars to be seen without the exercise of choice or volition on their part…. Other forms of advertising are ordinarily seen as a matter of choice on the part of the observer. The young people as well as the adults have the message of the billboard thrust upon them by all the arts and devices that skill can produce. In the case of newspapers and magazines, there must be some seeking by the one who is to see and read the advertisement. The radio can be turned off, but not so the billboard or street car placard. These distinctions clearly place this kind of advertisement in a position to be classified so that regulations or prohibitions may be imposed upon all within the class.”

The billboard industry’s own marketing material emphasizes the intrusive nature of the medium:

“Outdoor: … You can’t zap it. You can’t ignore it…. It asks little time, but leaves a long impression…. Outdoor is right up there. Day and night. Lurking. Waiting for another ambush.”52

Materials from the outdoor advertising industry in Chicago make similar, albeit less colorful, claims. The Eller Media Company notes that its “bulletins” assure “dominance in selected area(s),” and are “positioned on highly visible traffic locations such as expressways, primary arteries, and major intersections.” “Rotary bulletins” provide “full market coverage … to ensure total saturation of the market.” The company’s “Wallscape” sign on the sides of buildings “towers above the streets, creating a spectacular landmark … [and provides] dominance in key market (sic).” Eller’s 30-sheet posters “are located on primary and secondary streets where traffic volumes are high, … [provide] complete and instantaneous coverage of the market, … deliver exposures to both residents as well as commuter traffic, … [create] rapid consumer top-of-mind awareness, … [and provide] continuous presence, up to 18 hours every day.” “In Chicago,” Eller notes, “it takes a combination of 164 poster panels to achieve a daily circulation (number of impressions) equal to fifty percent of Chicago’s population. Showings can be specialized to reach various ‘niches’ within the overall market.”

Noticeably absent from Eller’s materials is any mention of avoiding youth exposure to advertising for age-restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol. On the contrary, the materials note that “Outdoor advertising displays are giant, dramatic and visible … their presence in the market ensures nearly everyone will be exposed to them … [they] generate massive awareness of an advertising message…. Outdoor reaches a highly mobile audience … where people live, work and socialize.” (Emphasis added.)

C. Billboards are in people’s neighborhoods and are constantly exposing youth and adults to unsolicited messages.

As Judge Hargrove noted in Penn Advertising of Baltimore Inc v Mayor of Baltimore,53

“A billboard is a constant fixture in a neighborhood. It looms over children every day while they walk to school, and every time they play in their neighborhood, thus forming an inescapable part of their daily life.”

“Eight-sheet” (5 by 11 feet) billboards are particularly effective in encroaching on people in their neighborhood, because they are smaller than the typical highway billboards, are low to the ground, and are close to the street (and thus, to sidewalks, cars, and school buses). As noted above, in 1985 tobacco advertising expenditures for eight-sheet billboards were $7.8 million — about half the total expenditures for that medium ($15.6 million).49

Voluntary codes by the billboard industry have been ineffective in preventing youth exposure to tobacco billboards (e.g., the code of the Outdoor Advertising Agencies of America, which recommends that its member companies not advertise tobacco and alcohol within 500 feet of schools and other areas where underage youth congregate).54 Evidence presented to the Lansing, Michigan city council, which recently banned tobacco billboards in that city, showed a substantial overlap between tobacco billboards and school bus routes. A similar problem has been reported from the United Kingdom, where many tobacco billboards are found near schools, in violation of a voluntary agreement on cigarette advertising between the government and cigarette manufacturers.55

In the Roper Starch study conducted for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (mentioned above),12 children (10-17 years old) who said they knew Joe Camel were asked “Please tell me the ways that you might have seen or heard about this character.” The largest proportion (51%) said the information came from a billboard advertisement, followed by an advertisement in a magazine (45%), an advertisement in a store (32%), or from a T-shirt (22%). On the other hand, for other cartoon characters in advertisements — e.g., the Energizer Bunny, Ronald McDonald, and the Keebler Elves — recognition based on billboard exposure was between 6% and 13%.12

Further evidence that tobacco billboards are reaching (and probably influencing) youth comes from a survey conducted for the trade publication Advertising Age. It showed that 46% of children 8-13 years old said they most often saw cigarette advertising on billboards. Moreover, 34% of those 14-18 years of age cited billboards as the predominant advertising medium for tobacco products.56

D. Billboards in urban, inner-city environments are more likely to carry tobacco and alcohol advertisements, often targeted to racial and ethnic minorities.

A number of studies have shown that billboards in urban, inner-city environments are more likely to carry tobacco and alcohol advertisements, often targeted to racial and ethnic minorities. A survey in Baltimore, before that city banned tobacco and alcohol billboards, showed that of 2,015 billboards in the city, 75% were located in predominantly poor, African American neighborhoods; 75% of those billboards carried tobacco or alcohol ads, compared to 20% in white neighborhoods.57

The Detroit Planning Commission conducted a study of the 4,144 billboards in the city in 1989. It found that advertisements for tobacco and alcohol products accounted for 55% to 58% of all billboards in lower income Detroit, compared to 34% to 43% in higher income areas. The two billboards found to be the tallest and largest both advertised tobacco.58

A Chicago Lung Association survey found 27% more billboards in predominantly African American wards in Chicago than in white wards.59 In Washington, D.C., few alcohol and tobacco billboards were found in ward 3, which is predominantly white; however, 78% of billboards advertised alcohol or tobacco in wards 7 and 8, which are heavily African American.60 A similar pattern of targeting ethnic and poor neighborhoods was found in St. Louis, Atlanta, and San Francisco.61

Based on the evidence cited elsewhere in this report, it is reasonable to assume that the higher density of tobacco billboards in poor, ethnic neighborhoods is responsible for smoking by large numbers of young people in racial and ethnic populations in urban areas. This is a matter of great concern given the recent report that smoking prevalence increased substantially from 1991 to 1997 among African American high school students (from 12.6% to 22.7%) and among Hispanic students (from 25.3% to 34.0%).62

VII. Conclusions

A. Conclusions of the 1994 Surgeon General’s report

Based on much of the evidence cited above, the 1994 Surgeon General’s report “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People”2 reached the following conclusions about tobacco advertising and promotion:

1. Young people continue to be a strategically important market for the tobacco industry.
2. Young people are currently exposed to cigarette messages through print media (including outdoor billboards) and through promotional activities….
3. Cigarette advertising uses images rather than information to portray the attractiveness and function of smoking. Human models and cartoon characters in cigarette advertising convey independence, healthfulness, adventure-seeking, and youthful activities — themes correlated with psychosocial factors that appeal to young people.
4. Cigarette advertisements capitalize on the disparity between an ideal and actual self-image and imply that smoking may close the gap.
5. Cigarette advertising appears to affect young people’s perceptions of the pervasiveness, image, and function of smoking. Since misperceptions in these areas constitute psychosocial risk factors for the initiation of smoking, cigarette advertising appears to increase young people’s risk of smoking.”

B. Conclusions of the Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration, having reviewed the same body of evidence discussed in this report, has come to the following conclusion:

“FDA recognizes that advertising may not be the most important factor in a child’s decision to smoke; however, the studies cited by the agency establish that it is a substantial, contributing, and therefore material, factor…. The proper question is not, ‘Is advertising the most important cause of youth initiation?’ but rather, ‘does FDA have a solid body of evidence establishing that advertising encourages young people’s tobacco use such that FDA could rationally restrict that advertising?’ The answer to this question is ‘yes.’” (emphasis in original)63

C. My own conclusions

My own conclusions are similar to those of the 1994 Surgeon General’s report and the Food and Drug Administration. The evidence reviewed in this report clearly indicates that tobacco advertising and promotion increase aggregate tobacco consumption, in part through a material effect on smoking by youth. The several lines of evidence that lead to these conclusions include:

o Time-series studies from several countries showing a relationship between tobacco consumption and tobacco advertising expenditures at the national level;
o Studies showing that countries with tobacco advertising bans have lower tobacco consumption (or slower increases in consumption) than those without bans;
o Studies showing that tobacco advertising and promotion reach children and adolescents;
o Numerous cross-sectional studies showing that smoking status and smoking initiation are correlated with awareness, recognition, and approval of tobacco advertisements and promotions; exposure to tobacco advertisements and promotions; “receptivity” to tobacco advertising and promotion; receipt or ownership of tobacco promotional items; and a feeling that cigarette ads make them want to smoke a cigarette;
o Two longitudinal studies showing that approval of cigarette advertising and “receptivity” to tobacco marketing predict the likelihood of taking up smoking or moving through the process of smoking initiation; and
o Studies showing relationships between cigarette brand preference among youth and the following variables: a) cigarette advertising expenditures for certain brands, b) the use of youth-oriented imagery in certain advertising (e.g., Joe Camel), and c) the degree to which teenagers “like” different ads.

Billboards are a special source of concern because: 1) they are a favorite medium for tobacco advertising; 2) they are intrusive and cannot be avoided; 3) they are in people’s neighborhoods and are constantly exposing youth and adults to unsolicited messages; and 4) billboards in urban, inner-city environments are more likely to carry tobacco and alcohol advertisements, often targeted to racial and ethnic minorities.

Because legislation prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors, because tobacco advertising and promotion encourage minors to buy and use tobacco products, and because tobacco billboards are a prime medium through which advertising and promotion accomplish these effects, I believe that implementation of legislation banning or limiting tobacco billboards in the City of Chicago will have a direct and material benefit on the welfare of the city and its children and adolescents.

VIII. References

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24. Richards JW, DiFranza JR, Fletcher C, Fischer PM. RJ Reynolds’ “Camel Cash”: Another way to reach kids. Tobacco Control 1995;4:258-60.
25. Gilpin EA, Pierce JP, Rosbrook B. Are adolescents receptive to current sales promotion practices of the tobacco industry? Prev Med 1997;26:14-21.
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27. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress for 1996, pursuant to the federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. Washington, D.C.: FTC, 1998.
28. Institute of Medicine. Growing up tobacco free: Preventing nicotine addiction in children and youths. BS Lynch, RJ Bonnie, eds. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1994.
29. O’Connell DL, Alexander HM, Dobson AJ, et al. Cigarette smoking and drug use in school children. II. Factors associated with smoking. Internatl J Epid 1981;10:223-31.
30. Potts H, Gillies P, Herbert M. Adolescent smoking and opinion of cigarette advertisements. Health Educ Res 1986;1:195-201.
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32. Aitken PP, Eadie DR. Reinforcing effects of cigarette advertising on under-age smoking. British J Addiction 1990;85:399-412.
33. Armstrong BK, De Klerk NH, Shean RE, et al. Influence of education and advertising on the uptake of smoking by children. Med J Aust 1990;152:117-24.
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40. Pierce JP, Choi WS, Gilpin EA, et al. Tobacco industry promotion of cigarettes and adolescent smoking. JAMA 1998;279:511-15.
41. Huang PP, Burton D, Howe HL, Sosin DM. Black-white differences in appeal of cigarette advertisement among adolescents. Tobacco Control 1992;1:249-55.
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43. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comparison of the cigarette brand preferences of adult and teenaged smokers — United States, 1989, and 10 U.S. communities, 1988 and 1990.. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 1992;41:169-73, 179-81.
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45. Pierce JP, Lee L, Gilpin EA. Smoking initiation by adolescent girls, 1944 through 1988. JAMA 1994;271:608-11.
46. Pollay RW, Siddarth S, Siegel M, et al. The last straw? Cigarette advertising and realized market shares among youths and adults, 1979-1993. J Marketing 1996; 60 (April):1-16.
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48. King C, Siegel M, Celebucki C, Connolly GN. Adolescent exposure to cigarette advertising in magazines: An evaluation of brand-specific advertising in relation to youth readership. JAMA 1998;279:516-20.
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53. Penn Advertising of Baltimore, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Civil Action Nos. HAR 94-117 and HAR 94-145, 1994 WL 136298 (D. Md. March 28, 1994).
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55. Guthrie B. Tobacco advertising near schools. Brit Med J (BMJ) 1994;308:658.
56. Levin G. Poll shows Camel ads are effective with kids: preteens best recognize brand. Advertising Age, April 27, 1992, page 12.
57. Brief Amici Curiae submitted by the Maryland Congress of Parents & Teachers, Inc, in Penn Advertising of Baltimore Inc v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City, on appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Tobacco Product Litigation reporter 1994;9(6):3.806-3.823.
58. Gavrilovich P. City confirms abundance of alcohol, tobacco signs. Detroit Free Press, October 27, 1989, page 3A.
59. Hackbarth D, et al. Booze and butts in fifty Chicago neighborhoods: Market segmentation to promote dangerous products to the poor. Unpublished manuscript on file with the Chicago Lung Association.
60. de Silva R. Targeting alcohol, tobacco ads, groups urge ban on displays in city. Washington Post, July 7, 1994, page J5.
61. Tobacco and alcohol billboards targeted at the poor: the other side of the billboard. Washington, D.C.: Scenic America, November 1989, page 3.
62. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco use among high school students — United States, 1997. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 1998;47:229-233.
63. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Regulations restricting the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to protect children and adolescents. Federal Register 1996 (August 28);61(168):44476, 44488.

Appendix — Biographical Sketch for Ronald M. Davis, M.D.

Ronald M. Davis, M.D., became the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention of the Henry Ford Health System in September 1995. He was appointed Associate Medical Director of Health Alliance Plan of Michigan in September 1996. From 1991 to 1995, he served as Chief Medical Officer in the Michigan Department of Public Health. From 1987 to April 1991, Dr. Davis served as the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health. He completed the Epidemic Intelligence Service program and the preventive medicine residency program at CDC; received his M.D. and Master of Arts degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago; and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. Dr. Davis was elected as the first resident physician member of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, and served in that capacity from 1984 through 1987. He was elected to the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs in June 1993, and became chair of the Council in June 1997.

Dr. Davis has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, and has received many award and honors, including the Surgeon General’s Medallion and the American Public Health Association’s Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award. He is a member of the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Tobacco or Health; and is the editor of Tobacco Control: An International Journal, which was launched by the British Medical Association in March 1992.(PinoyPress)

Probe Sought Vs Philip Morris for ‘Organizing’ Eraserheads Concert

August 17, 2008

Devious.

That’s how tobacco control advocates today described the ploy of Philip Morris Incorporated (PMI) in sponsoring the upcoming Eraserheads Reunion Concert even as they call on the band to sacrifice for the sake of their multitude of non-smoking fans.

“Like millions of Filipinos, we want to watch the reunion concert. But when we look for ways to get the tickets, we are redirected to http://www.marlboro.ph. This is clearly tantamount to advertising,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP).

Amid this, FCAP asked the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-T) to immediately investigate the tobacco company’s “devious advertising tactics.”

Following Philip Morris’ denial of any violation of Republic Act (RA) 9211, Limpin wrote IAC-T to investigate the cigarette manufacturer for undermining the law’s provisions against advertising its brand and promoting cigarette smoking through the Eraserheads concert.

“Philip Morris sought to gloss over any likely illegality, which may arise from its sponsorship of the event by calling the reunion a promotional event not open to the general public but restricted to trade partners and adult smokers who have to ‘obtain’ an invitation by ‘registering’ in Marlboro’s website,” she said.

Philip Morris Philippines has denied it is violating the law by pointing out a difference in the definition of “sponsorship” and “promotion” under RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. But FCAP described Philip Morris’ statement as “mere play of words, a marketing ploy that circumvents the law.”

RA 9211 prohibits “cigarette and tobacco companies from sponsoring any sport, concert, cultural or art event, as well as individual and team athletes, artists or performers where such sponsorship shall require or involve the advertisement or promotion of any cigarette or tobacco company, tobacco product or tobacco use.”

Philip Morris claims that it is not sponsoring the concert—by contributing a sum of money to a third party—but is organizing the event on its own as part of its promotional activity.

Limpin, however, pointed out that a violation of the ban on sponsorship occurs when: (1) the tobacco company sponsors, among others, any concert or performer; and (2) such sponsorship requires or involves the advertisement or promotion of any tobacco company, tobacco product or tobacco use, logo and trademark, among others.

Limpin said that even if Philip Morris does not give money to a third party to hold the concert, it is a fact that the event is closely tied to Marlboro, which constitutes an act of promoting and advertising the cigarette brand.

“Advertisement is likewise prevalent in the manner by which Philip Morris has aggressively used viral marketing to induce Eraserheads fans to register on its Marlboro website to obtain invitations to the event,” she noted.

Advertisement is defined under the law as “any visual and/or audible message disseminated to the public about or on a particular product that promote and give publicity by words, design, images or any other means through ….electronic … form of mass media.”

“The manner by which PMI has utilized the electronic media to stir interest and create hype about this event, lure both smokers and non-smokers alike to its website with the expectation of obtaining an invitation—thereby creating much publicity and getting electronic media mileage about Marlboro, its product name—is nothing but plain and simple, out-and-out advertisement,” Limpin said in her letter to I-ACT.

She said that even though the Marlboro website effectively limits the registration only to adults, these adult registrants are and will become part of the tobacco company’s database, easily accessible to its other forms of advertisements through the electronic media.

RA 9211 imposes a total ban on tobacco advertising in mass media, including through the Internet, starting July 1, 2008. The law defines advertising as “the business of conceptualizing, presenting, making available and communicating to the public, through any form of mass media, any fact, data or information about the attributes, features, quality or availability of consumer products, services or credit.”

“The act alone of making the concert accessible and free only to smokers, Philip Morris is actually promoting smoking,” Limpin said. “The concert is like a carrot at the end of the stick, the price for smoking,” she added.

To protect the health of Filipinos—young and old—FCAP is urging the IAC-T to convene, investigate and take the necessary action to ensure that the provisions of the Tobacco Regulatory Act are complied with.

The group also renewed its call for Eraserheads members to be good role models of Filipino youth and to disassociate themselves from a company that has done nothing but cause health problems to millions of people worldwide.

Meanwhile, Limpin dismissed speculations about FCAP’s “sudden hostility” toward Philip Morris.

She pointed out that FCAP has long been lobbying for tobacco control and its promotion by Philip Morris or any tobacco company. (30)(PinoyPress)

Eraserheads Reunion Concert: US Anti-Tobacco Group Slams Philip Morris’s ‘Devious’ Ploy

August 17, 2008

Company Urged to End Role in Eraserheads Concert as It Did with Alicia Keys Concert in Indonesia

Washington, D.C. – For the second time in recent weeks, international tobacco control advocates are calling on Philip Morris International to withdraw its sponsorship and promotion of a major concert, this time in the Philippines where the company’s activities appear to violate national law.

Last month, Philip Morris International withdrew its sponsorship of singer Alicia Keys’ concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, after the company was criticized for engaging in cigarette marketing that appealed to children and after Ms. Keys called for the sponsorship to be withdrawn.

Now health advocates are urging Philip Morris International to end its involvement in an August 30 reunion concert by the popular Filipino band Eraserheads, which has been called the “Beatles of the Philippines.” Those seeking tickets to the concert are being directed to http://www.marlboro.ph, a web site run by Philip Morris International’s Philippine subsidiary. To receive tickets and information, visitors to the web site must provide personal contact information that would allow Philip Morris International to send them promotional materials for cigarettes.

The reunion concert also has generated enormous Internet buzz that often mentions the Marlboro web site and brand name, resulting in positive publicity for Philip Morris International and its best-selling Marlboro cigarette brand.

Last week, the Philippines Department of Health warned Philip Morris International that it was violating the country’s tobacco regulation law. As of July 1, 2008, the law prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media including the Internet, places strict restrictions on other tobacco promotional activities (for example, allowing promotional displays only at point-of-sale of adult only facilities), and bans tobacco company sponsorship of concerts and other events. Philip Morris International’s involvement in the Eraserheads concert appears to violate different aspects of the law.

Health advocates are calling on Philip Morris International and Eraserheads to terminate any tobacco industry involvement in the concert and calling on Philippines government authorities to take action against any violation of the tobacco regulation law.

“Eraserheads members should not allow themselves to be deceived by Philip Morris and should protect their fans from this devious marketing ploy. Considered one of the most influential bands in the Philippines, Eraserheads has become a role model for our youth. I hope they will rise to the challenge and help young Filipinos lead healthy, tobacco-free lives by finding other sponsorship for the concert,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, a leading tobacco control organization in the Philippines. She called on Eraserheads to follow the example of Alicia Keys and end tobacco industry involvement in the band’s concert.

“Once again, Philip Morris International has been caught engaging in cigarette marketing that appeals to children in a developing country and that would not be tolerated in the United States and other wealthier nations,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The issue isn’t just whether Philip Morris International has violated Philippine law, but whether tobacco companies should be engaged in such youth-oriented marketing anywhere. Philip Morris International should immediately cease all such sponsorships and promotions in all countries.”

In the United States, Philip Morris USA and other major tobacco companies are prohibited from engaging in brand name sponsorships of concerts under a 1998 legal settlement with the states. However, in developing countries, tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians, which health advocates have condemned as a means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising.

The World Health Organization’s international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, requires ratifying nations to ban all tobacco advertising promotions and sponsorships. To date, 157 countries including the Philippines have ratified the treaty.

Health advocates dismissed Philip Morris International’s excuses for its involvement in the Eraserheads concert. The company has argued that access to the concert and its web site is restricted to adults. However, the extensive Internet publicity regarding the concert, which links Eraserheads and Marlboro, has been accessible to all ages. A Philip Morris International spokesman also told Philippines media, “We’re not sponsoring the event. We organized it ourselves.” This statement indicates an effort to circumvent the sponsorship ban and does not address other possible violations of the Philippines’ tobacco regulation law.

Currently, over 17 percent of Philippine youth (age 13-15) and 34.7 percent of adults smoke. According to the Philippines Department of Health, 87,600 Filipinos die each year from smoking-related diseases. (source: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org)(PinoyPress)

Arroyo really pro-artificial birth control, says group

August 16, 2008

By Desiree Caluza, Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:27:00 08/16/2008

BAGUIO CITY – Health officials and population experts here said President Macapagal-Arroyo is supporting artificial family planning methods although she is more vocal about the natural family planning method.

Aurora Quiray, Cordillera director of the Commission on Population, said Ms Arroyo has ordered the Department of Health, the commission and local governments to educate families on choices of family planning methods because the government considers population as a development issue.

Quiray said the government’s family planning program wants couples to have a choice in controlling their family.

“The government wants to balance artificial and natural family planning method and how they will be carried in the advocacy. In her State of the Nation Address, the President asserted the natural family planning method, but there is a mandate from her for DOH and Popcom on how the local government units will take charge of artificial family planning methods and contraceptives. The natural family planning method is a supplementation,” she said in a press forum here on Wednesday.

She said they held a region-wide consultation with Cordillera leaders on how to strengthen the program on population and development.

She said the consultation clarified the controversial reproductive health bills pending in Congress.

Quiray said it was also in the consultation that the support for artificial family planning method by the government was discussed.

In Pampanga, couples in Central Luzon appeared to favor more the use of modern than natural forms of family planning.

There has been a decline in the use of oral contraceptive pills from 50.56 percent in 2006 to 46.96 percent in 2007 but pills continued to be the first method of choice, according to data from the DOH’s field health service information system in seven provinces and 12 cities in Central Luzon.

The second most popular method – injectable contraceptive, which is done once every three months – also saw a declining number of users from 19.21 percent in 2006 to 16.62 percent in 2007.

More men went for vasectomy, which sharply rose from 0.05 percent in 2006 to 13 percent last year.

An increasing number of women, from 11.77 percent to 15.03 percent, resorted to tubal ligation.

1 in 20 patients acquires infection in hospitals

August 16, 2008

By Sheila Crisostomo
Saturday, August 16, 2008

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Health experts have warned that one out of 20 patients confined in a hospital or health care unit acquires infection during admission.

Dr. Mario Panaligan, former president of the Philippine Hospital Infection Control Society, said hospital-acquired infection or nosocomial infection are contracted by patients from treatment in a hospital or health care service unit.

“The infections are secondary or not related to the patient’s original condition,” said Panaligan who is currently an officer of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Patients are susceptible to microorganisms that can cause infection because their immune system is often at their weakest state.

He claimed that pathogens are transmitted through direct contact in patient-care activities, and indirect contact through contaminated instruments or other paraphernalia, airborne particles from droplets launched by coughing, sneezing or talking.

Dr. Victor Rosenthal, of the World Health Organization’s Infection Control Guidelines External Reviewer, said that in most developing countries 15 out of 100 patients confined in the intensive care unit are at risk of acquiring hospital-related infection.

Rosenthal added that with “vigilance and proper enforcement of infection control initiatives, hospitals can successfully curb the incidence of infections.”

The two experts have recommended five-point strategies to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Panaligan said that washing hands thoroughly is a simple procedure but it lessens the chance of transmitting pathogens after contact with blood, skin cells, secretions, bodily fluids, and contaminated articles and equipment.

They proposed the adoption of a “closed infusion system” in which a fully collapsible intravenous bag that does not require any external vent to empty the solution is used, thus preventing any bacteria from entering the system.

The experts want patients with communicable diseases to be isolated and proper ventilation should be installed in hospital rooms to prevent the airborne transmission of diseases.

Needles and sharp instruments like scalpels and surgical scissors must also be properly handled to stop the spread of blood borne pathogens.

Panaligan said proper sterilization and disposal should also be observed and it is imperative that contaminated items should not be left in patient care areas to avoid contact with food or common waste receptacles.

“Economics is one of the factors that can contribute to hospital infections, but shouldn’t necessarily be related. Even public hospitals and low-cost healthcare facilities can prevent hospital infections through simple initiatives,” he said.

He cited the importance of re-educating doctors and health workers as the aggressiveness of intervention in healthcare facilities will determine their success in infection control.(PhilippineStar)

Two-year old Hospitalized after Eating Rice with MSG as Viand

August 13, 2008

While the island of Negros is known as the land of sugar, many of its people are suffering from hunger and poverty. A two-year old boy ate the meal prepared by his sister, rice with monosodium glutamate or MSG, because there was no salt. After a few hours, he was rushed to a hospital and has been confined for more than a week now. This is a glimpse of the situation of hunger in the island.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 27, August 10-16, 2008

BACOLOD CITY – For lack of anything to eat, a two-year old boy ingested monosodium glutamate or MSG. He has been confined at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital since then.

On July 29, Ryan, not his real name, was with his three siblings in their home in Bgy. Makiling, Sagay, Negros Occidental. Both of their parents were out selling ice cream sticks for a living. The eldest son, 12 years old, was also out salvaging scrap metal to sell to augment the family income.

It was lunch time and the eldest sister aged nine prepared food. They had rice but there was no salt available; the girl used MSG as substitute.

A few hours after eating, Ryan got dizzy and eventually passed out.

Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital In an interview, Jennylyn Labajo, Ryan’s mother, related that they brought Ryan to the Bato District Hospital. The next day, their son was transferred to the Corazon Montelibano Memorial Hospital. The boy is confined at the Surgery-Pediatrics Section of the hospital.

Ryan’s doctor was not available for interview. The label on his bed indicates that he ingested MSG and also suffers from rabies.

His mother told Bulatlat that the boy was bitten by a dog a day before he ingested MSG.

Jennylyn said she had no choice but to leave her children at home so she could help his husband earn a living. She earns P70 ($1.578 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.34) a day while her husband earns P100 ($2.25) from selling ice cream sticks. During rainy season, their combined income is smaller.

Jennylyn related that they pay P200 ($4.51) for monthly rent. Their former house was destroyed by the last typhoon. They also cannot afford to send their children to school. Her five children have not yet been registered.

Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary general of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) said that MSG ingestion could affect a child’s kidney and liver.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 2.5 grams of MSG may cause headache, muscle tightness, numbness/tingling, general weakness, and flushing.

In an article posted by the worldhealthcenter.net, Dr. George J Georgiou and Barbara Karafokas of DaVinci Natural Health Centre, Larnaca, Cyprus said that MSG is toxic to humans and that over 25 percent of the world’s population suffers from adverse reactions from MSG.

The same article states that neuroscientists believe that the young and the elderly are most at risk from MSG. “In the young, the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed, exposing the brain to increased levels of MSG that has entered the bloodstream. The elderly are at increased risk because the blood-brain barrier can be damaged by aging, by disease processes, or by injury, including hypertension, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and stroke.”

Hunger, malnutrition

Ryan’s case is just a glimpse on the extent of hunger and malnutrition in the country.

According to government data, Negros registers an annual rate of 8.89 percent in malnutrition.

The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showed that the total hunger in the Visayas rose to 19.7 percent. Severe hunger is pegged at 3.3 percent. Bulatlat

Natural family planning (Unang bahagi)

August 10, 2008

MAY kasabihan sa Inggles na “the more, the merrier.” Ganito ang tradisyunal na pananaw ng mga Pilipino pagdating sa pamilya. Kaya nga hindi lang kuya at ate ang tawagan ng magkakapatid. Mayroon pang diko, ditse, sangko, sanse, siko at bunso.

Sa susunod na buwan, madaragdagan ang pamilya ni Sally. Magiging dalawa na ang anak niya. Halong ligaya at kaba ang nararamdaman niya. Ligaya, dahil magkakaroon na rin siya ng anak na lalaki. At kaba, dahil may kakambal itong panibagong gastusin. Sa taas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, hindi na sapat ang kinikita ng kanilang sari-sari store para sa pangangailangan ng kanyang pamilya. “Kung ako ang masusunod, hanggang dalawang anak lang. Ang hirap lang tumanggi sa mister ko ’pag nag-aaya siya (na makipagtalik).”

Gaya ng karamihang mga Pilipino, madalas marinig ni Sally ang terminong NFP (natural family planning). Pero hindi malinaw sa kanya kung ano ang ibig sabihin nito.

Ano ba ang NFP?

Ang NFP ay ang paraan kung paano mabuntis o umiwas sa pagbubuntis batay sa kaalaman sa menstrual cycle ng babae. At dahil natural ito, hindi ito gumagamit ng birth control devices tulad ng condom at pills. Ito’y medically safe, mabuti sa kalusugan, epektibo at hindi magastos.

NFP at reproduction

Para mas maunawaan ang NFP, mahalagang malaman ang proseso ng reproduction. May dalawang ovary na matatagpuan sa kaliwa’t kanan ng uterus ng babae. Bawat buwan, nagpapakawala ito ng egg sa fallopian tube. Ovulation ang tawag dito. Nangyayari ito 12-14 na araw bago magsimula ang menstrual period.

Maaaring mabuntis ang babae kung makikipagtalik siya sa panahong ito. Dadaan ang sperm ng lalake sa cervix papasok sa fallopian tube. Pag may naabutan itong egg, magkakaroon ng fertilization o ang pagsasama ng sperm at egg. Mapupunta ang fertilized egg sa uterus, at dito ito magiging fetus.

Sa NFP, matutulungan ang mga mag-asawang matukoy ang mga araw sa menstrual cycle kung kailan fertile at maaaring mabuntis ang babae. Para sa karamihan ng kababaihan, nagpapakawala ng egg ang ovary dalawang linggo bago ang kasunod na menstrual period. 24 oras itong mananatiling fertile matapos itong mapakawalan. Kung nais ng mag-asawang umiwas sa di-inaasahang pagbubuntis, hindi sila dapat magtalik sa panahong ito.

(May karugtong)(Pinoy Weekly)

Makabago at simpleng paraan ng natural family planning

August 10, 2008

Standard Days Method

Ang Standard Days Method ay nakabatay sa kaalamang ang menstrual cycle ay binubuo ng fertile phase na sinusundan ng mga araw na infertile. Tumatagal ng 26 hanggang 32 na araw ang regular na menstrual cycle ng babae. Maaaring siyang mabuntis sa ikawalo hanggang ika-19 na araw. Sa 12 araw na ito, isinaaalang-alang ang maaaring pagbabago sa timing ng ovulation at ang haba ng buhay ng sperm habang nasa loob ito ng reproductive tract ng babae.

Gumagabay ang color-coded beads na tinatawag na cycle beads para matukoy ang araw na fertile at infertile sa cycle ng babae.

Two Day Method

Cervical secretions ang batayan ng fertility sa Two Day Method. Kailangan i-monitor ng babae kung may bakas ng secretion para malaman kung maaari siyang mabuntis.

Bawat araw may dalawang tanong ang gumagamit ng Two day Method :

  • May napansin ba akong secretion ngayon?

  • May napansin ba akong secretion kahapon?

Kung may mapansin siyang secretion ngayon o kahapon, masasabing fertile siya ngayon, at hindi siya dapat makipagtalik para umiwas sa pagbubuntis. Kung wala siyang napansing secretion ngayon at kahapon (dalawang magkasunod na tuyong araw), napakaliit ng posibilidad na mabubuntis siya.

Iba pang paraan ng natural family planning:

Ovulation Method

Ang Ovulation Method na tinatawag ding Cervical Mucus Method, ay nakabatay sa pagbabago ng cervical secretion sa leeg ng uterus o cervix. Sa panahong pinaka-fertile, nagiging clear ang secretions, stretchy, madulas at basa.

Kung umiiwas pagbubuntis, hindi dapat makipagtalik sa panahong ito. Dapat hintayin ang ikatlong araw matapos ang huling fertile-type secretion.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Temperatura ng katawan sa umaga, bago ang kahit anong aktibidad, ang basehan ng BBT. Mas mababa ang temperature ng katawan bago ang ovulation, at bahagyang tumataas ng .2 degrees Celsius o .4 degrees Farenheit matapos ang ovulation.

Kung umiiwas sa pagbubuntis, dapat hintayin ang ikatlong araw matapos tumaas ang basal body temperature ng .2 degrees Celsius o .4 degrees Fahrenheit, na senyales ng katapusan ng fertile phase.

Symptothermal Method

Ang Symptothermal Method ay ang pag-oobserba sa mga pagbabago sa cervical secretions, kasama rin dito ang mga pagbabago sa basal body temperature, at ang posisyon at pakiramdam ng bukana ng cervix. Ang ilan pang senyales gaya ng mid-cycle pain o pagdudugo ay maaaring sumabay sa ovulation.

Fertility indicators ang mga ito. At hindi dapat makipagtalik sa panahong ito kung umiiwas sa pagbubuntis.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

Ang LAM ay nakabatay sa siyentipikong ebidensiya na hindi fertile ang isang babae at maliit ang tsansang mabubuntis siya sa panahon ng full lactation o exclusive breastfeeding. Tinutukoy ng full lactation ang pagpapasuso sa bata sa panahong walang regular na supplemental feeding (kahit na tubig).

Nagbibigay ng proteksiyon ang LAM kapag:

  • Hindi pa uli nagkakaroon ng menstruation

  • Hindi pa binibigyan ng bottle feeds at regular na mga food supplement ang sanggol

  • Wala pang anim na buwan ang edad ng bata

Gaano kaepektibo ang natural family planning?

Kung maingat na susundan ng kababaihan ang mga direksyon nito (ang pagtutukoy kung kailan siya may ovulation para malaman kung kailan siya makikipagtalik), 91% hanggang 98% na magiging epektibo ito. Pero dahil bihira ang perpektong pagsasagawa nito, tinatantiyang nasa 76% ang pagka-epektibo nito. Ibig sabihin sa 100 na babaing gumagamit ng natural family planning para umiwas sa pagbubuntis, 24 sa kanilang ang nabubuntis kada taon.

Ang pagkakaroon ng di-regular na period ang karaniwang dahilan ng pagkabigo ng natural family planning.(PinoyWeekly)

Eraserheads Concert: Who’s Wagging the Dog?

August 9, 2008

Dave Gomez, the public affairs and communications manager of Philip Morris, was quoted in this report as saying that the Eraserheads reunion concert will push through. He revealed that Philip Morris is not sponsoring the event — in fact, he said, the tobacco company is organizing it.

“We’re not sponsoring the event. We organized it ourselves,” Gomez was quoted as saying. “The event is free for our valued customers. This is a little something we do for them to show them our appreciation for their continued patronage of our products.”

Gomez emphasized this because of a legal point that would seem to clear Philip Morris of accusations that it violated Republic Act 9211 (the Tobacco Regulation Act). Apparently, under this law, tobacco companies can organize events but they cannot sponsor it. Go figure.

(A bit of an aside: Gomez said he was surprised why anti-tobacco advocates are complaining against a tobacco-backed concert when, according to him, they had done this sort of thing in the past with other bands. Newsflash: The ban on sponsorship took effect only last July 1.)

We grant for a moment that the company’s ass is covered, legally speaking. And, moreover, it’s probably not its fault if this law seemed defective (although big companies are notorious for lobbying legislators to either kill a proposed law or water it down — just look at what they’re doing lobbying hard against a law that would mandate picture-based warnings on cigarette packs).

But where does corporate responsibility come in for Philip Morris?

Surely, they must know that the intent of the law is to protect the public, particularly teenagers, from smoking and that governments around the world have passed legislation banning or restricting the advertising and promotion of tobacco. Yet, here comes Philip Morris and it finds an apparent loophole in our law and then exploits it — disregarding completely the intent of the law. And for what? To be able to sell their products to teenagers and young adults, a market that tobacco companies have been targeting in order to replenish their ranks of smokers.

Isn’t the profit from existing smokers not enough, so that they had to lure more smokers, younger smokers? Is their any hope that Philip Morris would be decent enough to exercise some amount of responsibility?

Aside from finding loopholes in the law, regardless of its clear intent, Philip Morris, as I’ve pointed out in a previous post, has likewise been exploiting the viral-marketing potentials of the Internet. That can only be expected, of course, from a company that peddles a toxic product. What I find disturbing is Philip Morris’s ability to penetrate the mainstream press, the blogs and the mailing lists and apparently manipulate them. That, or there’s complicity on the part of these sectors in the mainstream press and the Internet, whether they knew it or not, to play the company’s game.

A bit of a background is needed here. News about the Eraserheads reunion concert was first reported publicly by Philippine Star entertainment columnist Ricky Lo. In his column, Lo did not name Philip Morris as the one organizing the event. But the column was enough to heighten the buzz.

Pretty soon, Philmusic, a music site whose owner, Jim Ayson, also moderates the largest Eraserheads mailing list (with more than 5,000 members), reported that it had learned from a source that, indeed, Philip Morris/Marlboro is behind the concert. As far as I could tell, philmusic and Ayson’s mailing list is the ground zero of the buzz. It was also there, again as far as I could tell, where people were directed to a website where one can join the “Red List” in order to get tickets to the concert.

In other words, if I were Philip Morris, philmusic and Ayson’s mailing list would be my logical target for planting information or tips that would generate the buzz. Now I’m not suggesting anything improper or unethical on Ayson’s or philmusic’s part. Anybody, after all, can join or post anything on the mailing list or that, knowing Ayson’s clout in the local music scene, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he has sources knowledgeable about the planned concert. In fact, it’s very likely that, it being an extraordinary piece of news and buzz, philmusic just reported what it learned, not knowing perhaps that it was being manipulated by Philip Morris in what was turning out to be a terrific viral marketing campaign.

My point is that, tobacco companies will do anything to sell their products. The Internet, because of its freewheeling nature and its enormous audience composed of precisely the demographic tobacco companies have been targeting, holds huge potentials for the marketing of tobacco. If anything, the buzz that Philip Morris generated for the Eraserheads reunion concert only validated this. (Carlos H. Conde/pinoypress.net)

Improve people’s access to health services to fight leptospirosis, health group says

August 6, 2008

DAVAO CITY – A non government health organization said improved sanitation facilities and better access to health services among the people will reduce the risk of leptospirosis once heavy rains set in again.

Dr. Lynn Redoble, executive director of the Community Based Health Services Incorporated (CBHS), said efficient sewerage and garbage collection system would greatly decrease cases of leptospirosis while better access to health care and sanitation could mean early detection of the disease.

Leptospirosis is defined as a bacterial disease caused by the contact of broken skin with water contaminated with the urine or tissue of infected animals, which may include cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals, according to the United States Center for Disease Control.

The Department of Health (DoH) monitored 21 cases of leptospirosis in the city in the first half of the year, which more than double the 10 recorded cases in the entire year of 2007. Dr. Rogelio Peñera, a DoH medical specialist, confirmed one death caused by leptospirosis although he said that deaths from leptospirosis are very rare.

Patients who are sick of the disease usually die from complications, such as renal failure, he explained.

He also said that health authorities can only count few cases that reach the hospitals. City hospitals are required to report a patient diagnosed with leptospirosis within a week.

Peñera said more than half of the cases of leptospirosis in the region were reported to have come from Davao city. He explained though, that six of the 10 hospitals that DoH monitors are in the city, which might have accounted for the high number of cases here.

Redoble said the poor are most vulnerable to the disease. “Slum areas are frequently flooded because there is no proper garbage collection,” she said. “Sewers are usually clogged and the residents are forced to wade in flood waters.”

”When the poor get sick, they cannot afford to go to the doctor for check up,” she said. She also said the poor will be worse off if the planned privatization of the Davao Medical Center, the region’s largest public hospital, will push through.

Only laboratory tests can accurately tell if a patient has contracted the disease or not. But the poor could not afford more medical procedures, so, oftentimes these are not detected, Redoble said.

Leptospirosis has a wide array of symptoms which make it possible for most people to dismiss it as flu. DoH said the symptoms for leptospirosis and flue are similar–high fever, chills, vomiting, calf pains and muscle aches.

Redoble said children have an increased risk for the disease because they like to play in the mud and murky flood waters.

Advanced symptoms of leptospirosis include jaundice and renal failure, or inability to urinate. Redoble said that at its advanced stage, the disease could easily lead to the collapse of major organs such as kidney liver and lungs and eventually, death. (CJ Kuizon/ davaotoday.com)

US Group Urges Probe of Marlboro’s ‘Sponsorship’ of Eraserheads Concert

July 30, 2008

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. singing star Alicia Keys has set a positive example that should be followed by musicians and entertainers worldwide by demanding the withdrawal of tobacco industry sponsorship of her July 31 concert in Jakarta, Indonesia.

We applaud Ms. Keys for taking quick action to disassociate herself from the tobacco industry and to prevent her name, image and talent from continuing to be used to market cigarettes to children.

It is critical that the tobacco company involved, Philip Morris International/Sampoerna, and concert promoters immediately end the sponsorship and all tobacco-related marketing and branding associated with the concert.

We call on all involved in the music and entertainment industry, including performers and promoters, to follow Alicia Keys’ example and adopt policies of rejecting all tobacco sponsorship and other tobacco promotions.

We also call on tobacco companies to immediately cease all such sponsorships and promotions.

The World Health Organization’s international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, requires ratifying nations to ban all tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships. Nations should act quickly to implement this critical provision of the treaty. Even before they do, tobacco companies should immediately cease such sponsorships and promotions, including sporting as well as entertainment events.

In the United States, Philip Morris USA and other major tobacco companies are prohibited from engaging in brand name sponsorships of concerts under a 1998 legal settlement with the states.

However, in developing countries, tobacco companies continue to sponsor concerts by famous musicians as a means to market cigarettes to children and to circumvent restrictions on more traditional tobacco advertising.

Alicia Keys’ Jakarta concert had been sponsored and heavily advertised by Philip Morris International and its Indonesian subsidiary Sampoerna. According to giant billboards posted in Jakarta, the concert was billed as “A Mild Live Production”. “A Mild” is a cigarette brand produced by Sampoerna.

The billboards feature a large photo of Alicia Keys, the logo for “A Mild” cigarettes and a large health warning that states, “Smoking can cause cancer, heart attacks, impotence and harm pregnancy and fetal development.”

The Alicia Keys concert is not the only current example of Philip Morris International being involved in the sponsorship or promotion of concerts by well-known musicians.

In the Philippines, those seeking tickets to an August 30 reunion concert of the famous Filipino band Eraserheads are being directed to a http://www.marlboro.ph, a Web site run by Philip Morris International’s Philippines subsidiary.

The Eraserheads have been called the “Beatles of the Philippines” and the reunion concert has generated enormous online buzz that often mentions the Marlboro web site, generating positive publicity for the world’s best-selling cigarette brand. Philippines authorities should investigate whether marketing for this concert violates a national law that, as of July 1, 2008, bans tobacco sponsorships and all forms of tobacco advertising in mass media, including the Internet.

These concert sponsorships and promotions indicate that Philip Morris International continues to engage in cigarette marketing that attracts children, especially in developing countries where the company may think it can escape public scrutiny. We urge Philip Morris to immediately end all such sponsorships and promotions in all countries, not just when it is caught red-handed as it was in Indonesia.

Last week, international public health advocates called on Alicia Keys to withdraw tobacco industry sponsorship of the Jakarta concert and condemned Philip Morris International for sponsoring the concert as a way of marketing cigarettes to children. (http://www.tobaccofreecenter.org)

Public Health Providers Tired of GMA’s Promises

July 27, 2008

A meager P18.65 ($0.42) per day is the equivalent of the ten percent increase to Salary Grade I government employees, which includes health workers in public hospitals.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 25, July 27-August 2, 2008

Jamil Dionisio has been working as nursing attendant for 15 years at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP). His take home pay is only P3,000 ($67.827 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.23)a ) per month.

A big chunk of his salary is gobbled up by payments for Government Security and Insurance System (GSIS) and Pag-ibig loans, personal loans and taxes.

Even though his wife is working abroad, Dionisio still finds it hard to make both ends meet.

His three children have transferred from private to public schools due higher tuition and other fees. To cut expenses on transportation, he acquired a motorcycle and still pays for it on an installment basis.

Asked about the ten percent salary increase for government employees, he said, “Hindi namin naramdaman.” (We never felt it.)

Dionisio is one of the thousands of health workers nationwide who grapple with low salary and limited benefits.

According to the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), the ten percent salary increase is only P18.65 ($0.42) per day for Salary Grade I workers.

Entry level for rank-and-file employees in hospitals categorized as government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) is Salary Grade IV with a P7,000 ($158.26) salary. Utility workers receive less, with Salary Grade III entry level receiving only a little more than P5,000 ($113.045) per month.

As of March 2008, the National Wages and Productivity Commission placed the daily cost of living for a family of six in the National Capital Region at P858 ($19.15). It means that to be able to live decently, a family needs to earn P25, 740 ($574.68) per month.

An insult

Emma Manuel, AHW chairperson warned Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against taking pride in the ten-percent salary increase for government employees.

Health ProvidersPagod na kami sa mga pangakong walang katotohanan,” (We are tired of empty promises.) Manuel said.

She said that Arroyo’s tarpaulins with the slogan “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” (Progress is felt) is a big insult to government workers.

She described their condition, “Butas na ang bulsa, hikahos na.” (Pockets empty, struggling to survive). She added, “Our present take home pay even with the measly ten percent hike could not even take us home.”

Manuel also said that the long-awaited benefits accorded by law such as the subsistence allowance, cost of living allowance (COLA) backpay, increase in hazard pay “remain only as dreams” as these are subject to the availability of funds.

She also criticized Arroyo for not allocating funds for the implementation of the Nursing Law. The law mandates the increase of entry salary grade for nurses to Salary Grade 15 or P16,000 ($361.745) per month. Most nurses are classified under Salary Grade 10.

The AHW reiterated their demand for a P3,000 ($67.827) salary increase for government employees.

Doctors

Meanwhile, Dr. Julie Caguiat, executive director of the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) decried the Arroyo government’s neglect of doctors and health workers.

Caguiat said that while there are many well-meaning doctors who would want to serve the poor in rural areas, the economic conditions and lack of support from government compel them to work abroad. Caguiat said that 80 to 90 percent of municipal health officers in the country are taking up nursing.

The HEAD said that resident doctors in public hospitals receive only P18,000 ($406.96) per month.

“The conditions are not inviting,” Caguiat said. She deplored that those who go to far-flung areas are even branded as rebels.

“We ask Arroyo, where have the doctors gone? If we are losing our doctors, who will be the ones to look into the people’s health?”

Caguiat also called on the Arroyo government to address the plight of the poor. Caguiat said, “It is frustrating for us to treat them and then send them back to their abject conditions.” Bulatlat

People’s Health, Least in GMA’s Priorities

July 27, 2008

While Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has repeatedly claimed that health and other social services are her priorities, records show otherwise. The budget for health has been consistently meager, causing dire effects on the people’s conditions.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
BULATLAT
Volume VIII, No. 25, July 27-August 2, 2008

In 2007, the United Nations ranked the Philippines 90th out of 177 countries for the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI is a survey on the quality of life of citizens in UN member countries. It measures life expectancy, educational attainment, and GDP per capita. It was developed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a standard means of measuring human development, a concept, which according to the UNDP, refers to the process of widening the options of persons, giving them greater opportunities for education, health care, income, employment, etc.

Data from United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF) reveals that in 2006, infant mortality rate in the Philippines is 24 per 1,000 live births.

At least 20 percent of infants born between 1999 and 2006 are with low birth weight. From 2000 to 2006, 28 percent of children under five are underweight.

According to the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), ten mothers die daily of pregnancy-and child-related causes. The group also said that seven out of ten Filipinos die without medical attention.

Malnutrition and hunger remain perennial in the Philippines. UNICEF Representative in the Philippines Nicholas K. Alipui said in a statement in May 2006, “The malnutrition situation in the Philippines is devastating.”

The Philippines is among the ten countries severely affected by malnutrition, which is
considered a disease caused by inadequate or excessive intake of food. More than three million Filipino children are suffering from undernutrition, the worst form of malnutrition.

A recent survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS) showed that 14.5 million Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger or hunger due to lack of food between April and June this year.

The number accounts for 16.3 percent of families nationwide or approximately 2.9 million households. It must be noted that it is higher than the 10-year average hunger rate of 12.1 percent. Severe hunger also increased from 3.2 percent to 4.2 percent (760, 000 families or 3.8 million people)

Metro Manila has the highest hunger incidence, hitting a record high of 22 percent. This is equivalent to 530,000 families or 2.65 million people.

A survey by IBON Foundation in April this year showed that 75.3 percent of families could not buy enough food.

Undeniably, poverty has affected the health conditions of the Filipino people.

Based on the 2004 data of the Department of Health (DoH), most of the ten highest causes of morbidity remain to be communicable but preventable diseases such as dengue, diarrhea, bronchitis and tuberculosis.

Pittance

Amid these conditions, the Arroyo government has neglected the people’s health as data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

From 2001 to 2007, the annual average allocation for health is only P13 billion. ($293,918,155 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.23) The budget for 2007 was the lowest in seven years at P11.66 billion ($263,621,976). While the budget for 2008 has increased to P19.77 billion ($446,981,686), this is still a meager P219.66 ($4.966) per person health budget for the year considering that the country’s population is estimated at over 90 million. In addition, this meager budget is fast becoming nil because of run away inflation. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the inflation rose to11.4 percent this June and could even reach 12 percent.

For this year, the allocation for disease prevention and control is only P4.91 billion ($111,010,626) while P120.13 million ($2,716,029) is allotted for monitoring and surveillance of diseases and outbreaks.

For this year, the 12 specialty government hospitals have a combined budget of P2.79 billion ($63,079,357). These include the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, National Children’s Hospital, National Center for Mental Health, Philippine Orthopedic Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and Amang Rodriguez Medical Center.

Five of these hospitals have not received funds for capital outlay. Tondo Medical Center has the lowest budget of P102.44 million ($2,316,075) and the National Center for Mental Health is allotted P461.65 million ($10,437,485).

The budget for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for this year is P1.07 billion ($24,191,725), of which P810 million ($18,313,361) is allotted for personnel services and only P3 million ($67,827) for capital outlay.

In 2007, the PGH budget included a measly P15.5 million ($350,440) for medical and dental assistance, including hospitalization, for indigent patients. For this year, no such item is reflected in the PGH’s budget

Meanwhile, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center would receive P 629.33 million ($14,228,577) and the AFP Medical Center, P713.34 million ($16,127,967).

Subsidies for indigent patients for confinement in specialty hospitals and for the use of specialized equipment is only P6 million ($135,654). The overall subsidy for indigent patients is only P139 million ($3,142,663).

This is a pittance compared to allocations for defense and debt interest payments. From 2001 to 2008, the average allocation for debt interest payments is P257.10 billion ($5,812,796,744) and for defense, P43.58 billion ($985,304,092).

IBON Foundation revealed that debt service increased by 100 percent from 2001 to 2005. The independent think-tank estimated that during the same period, $48 billion had been paid for debt, equivalent to 11.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

Payments for the principal amortization of foreign and local debts in 2007 amounted to P303.83 billion ($6,869,319,466) and for this year, principal amortization is pegged at P328.34 billion ($7,423,468,234).

Year

Health

Debt Interest

Payments

Defense

2001

13.64 B

181.60 B

32.78 B

2002

14.49 B

185.86 B

38.91 B

2003

12.40 B

226.41 B

44.42 B

2004

12.88 B

271.53 B

43.85 B

2005

12.93 B

301.69 B

44.19 B

2007

11.66 B

318.18 B

49.34 B

2008

19.77 B

269.85 B

50.93 B

Ave. allocation per year

13.84 B

257.10 B

43.58 B

Source of basic data: Department of Budget and Management
The Congress re-enacted the 2005 budget for 2006.


Inaccessible

Due to the meager budget for health, government hospitals have imposed charges such as operating room deposits, emergency room fees and laboratory fees.

Based on a primer released by the Council for Health and Development (CHD), a national organization of community-based health programs (CBHPs), the PGH charges P1,500 ($33.91) for the use of its operating room and Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital charges P3,500 ($79.13) for the same item.

The CHD further revealed that patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) are suffering because of the hospital’s “no pay, no hook policy” referring to the hospital’s policy of not giving dialysis treatment to patients who cannot pay the treatment. One dialysis session at the NKTI costs P2,700 ($61.04). A patient with a serious kidney problem usually has to undergo dialysis treatment twice a week.

The health group also said that patients in public hospitals have to pay even for the cotton balls, syringe and gauze they consume.

Indeed, health services in government hospitals have become prohibitive for many of the country’s poor.

A survey conducted by the Kilos Bayan para sa Kalusugan (KBK or People’s Health Movement) in August 2007 revealed that 70 percent of patients paid P1,000 to P50,000 ($22.60 to $1,130) for hospital expenses and five percent spent P50,000 to one million pesos ($1,130 to $22,609). Only 15 percent were charged one peso to one thousand pesos ($0.02 to $22.60).

Sixty-one percent of the respondents of the survey are unemployed, 27 percent are low-income earners while the remaining 13 percent are low-income professionals. The survey results showed that 76 percent of the respondents have to borrow money from friends and relatives, sell their property or beg for mercy from charitable institutions to be able to pay the expenses they incurred while in the hospital.

The April 2008 survey by IBON Foundation also showed that 73.38 percent of families are having difficulty paying for medicines and treatment.

Even the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) cards prove to be insignificant, the CHD primer stated.

The PhilHealth claimed to cover 80 percent of the population.

According to Dr. Gene Nisperos, HEAD vice chairperson, the National Institute of Health maintained that the PhilHealth’s claim of coveragehealth sit is overestimated by at least 20 percent.

Nisperos noted that the PhilHealth coverage has been bloated to 80 percent during the election period in 2006. In the past years, the coverage is only 61 percent. He added that the PhilHealth does not include outpatient services.

Independent surveys conducted by the KBK also showed that in Metro Manila’s seven government hospitals, seven in every ten poor families are not members of PhilHealth.

Another study commissioned by the European Commission regarding PhilHealth coverage in Mindanao showed that only ten percent of the poor in Tawi-Tawi, 12 percent in Davao Oriental and 15 percent in Zamboanga del Norte and Maguindanao are covered by PhilHealth.

In a press conference, July 25, Dr. Eleanor Jara¸ CHD executive director, criticized the Botika ng Barangay program of the Arroyo government. She said, “There is no truth in government’s claim that the poor benefits from this program.”

Jara cited as an example the Botika ng Barangay in Payatas. She said that residents complained that the pharmacy is empty.

She also slammed the profiteering of the government from the said program. She revealed that while mefenamic acid costs P11 ($0.248) in some branches of the Botika ng Barangay, the actual cost of the said medicine, which is imported from India or Pakistan is only two pesos ($0.045).

Policies

The Arroyo government has continued the implementation of the Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA) through the Fourmula One Program. The HSRA was formulated in 1999 and ended in 2005.

The CHD maintained that the HSRA “laid down the conditions where the people have to foot for all their health needs and expenditures.”

The HSRA paved the way for the privatization of specialty hospitals. The CHD said, “In the guise of corporatization, the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute at Philippine Children’s Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center were corporatized and provided autonomy in management and financial aspects.”

Mechanisms were implemented to collect and earn more revenues, including increasing the number of pay wards while reducing the number of beds for charity and allowing the DoH by virtue of Executive Order 197 to increase fees in public hospitals up to 20 percent.

The CHD further stressed, “The aspects of health reforms are characterized by increasing the people’s out-of-pocket spending for health and decreasing funds and responsibility of the government for people’s health.” Bulatlat

SC asked to stop aerial spraying in Davao

July 25, 2008

By William B. Depasupil, Reporter

ALARMED over the health hazards of chemical spraying, residents of Davao province on Friday filed a petition before the Supreme Court to ban the aerial spraying of pesticides on banana plantations near communities.

In a 43-page petition, the residents of Davao asked the High Tribunal to reverse the preliminary injunction issued by the Court of Appeals against the implementation of an ordinance issued by the Davao City council which banned the aerial spraying of pesticides banana plantations near communities.

Named respondents in the 43-page petition for certiorari were the appellate court, Pilipino Banana Growers & Exporters Association, Davao Fruit Corp. and Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corp.

The petitioners were Wilfredo Mosqueda, Arcelo Villaganes, Julieta Lawagon, Crispin Alcomendras, Virginia Cata-ag, Rebecca Saligumba, Florencia Sabandon, Carolina Pilongco and Ledevina Adalawan.

The appellate court in January28, 2008 granted the writ of preliminary injunction on the enforcement and implementation of Davao City Ordinance No. 0309-07, Series of 2007, entitled “An Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying Practice in All Agricultural Entities in Davao City.”

In their petition, the residents also asked the High Tribunal to annul the appellate court ruling, dated May 22, 2008, which denied their motion for reconsideration.

Grave abuse of authority

Petitioners claimed the appellate court committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied their motion for reconsideration as “it had placed them in grave danger brought about by aerial spraying.”

The appellate court ruling, they added, “also unduly deprived the City of Davao of its constitutionality and statutorily granted authority and power to promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, and preserve the comfort of and convenience of the inhabitants.”

Lawyer Arnold de Vera of the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal, an alternative law group giving free legal service to the affected Davao residents, said the injunction prevented the local government from enforcing the ordinance that was suppose to take effect March 23, 2007.

“The ordinance enjoys the presumption of legality. Hence, its continued enforcement cannot and should not be stopped by injunction,” de Vera said.

De Vera explained a writ of injunction is, in essence, a protective measure against irreparable injury, but the owners and operators of banana plantations could not prove to the appellate court that stopping aerial spraying will cause irreparable damage to their business.

According to de Vera, the city ordinance does not prohibit the use of pesticides but the method of using aircraft to spray the chemicals.

Records showed the banana association in assailing the ordinance as unconstitutional, filed a civil case against the city government to stop the implementation of the ordinance.

On September 22, 2007, the Davao City Regional Trial Court upheld the constitutionality and validity of the ordinance. On October 8, 2007, the banana association elevated the case to the appellate court.(ManilaTimes)

Pinoy ‘healing’ priest barred from saying Mass in Toronto

July 7, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—“Healing” Filipino priest Fernando Suarez has been barred from saying Mass in Toronto, Canada, according to Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros.

Oliveros said Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toronto told him during the 49th International Eucharistic Congress held recently in Quebec, Canada, that the reason was Suarez’s healing activities.

Oliveros said it appeared Suarez had violated a Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directive—Article 4, No. 3, of the disciplinary norms contained in the Instruction on Prayers for Healing issued in 2000.

For his part, Oliveros said he was bent on pursuing his complaint against Suarez for holding healing Masses in Malolos City in Bulacan province last year without his permission.

“Although I had said in January that I would lodge a complaint against Suarez for holding Masses in Malolos without my consent, I could not do so due to so many commitments,” Oliveros said in an interview posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ website.

Suarez, a Philippine-born member of the Canada-based Companions of the Cross, has been drawing crowds to his healing Masses in the country and abroad.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz has also barred Suarez from Pangasinan province.(PDI)

=========================

My Take:

Tsk! Pera-pera kasi ito eh.  These very act of Fr. Suarez violates the basics of the Social Doctrine.  Dun pa lang sa pagbebenta nila ng mga CD? Tsk. I smell another filthy scam here.

My apology to his followers, pero he is not God.  And as he defies some rules, he should be reprimanded, just like what the lord did to lucifer (ooops, im not saying that he is that evil). 🙂

Diarrhea cases in province climb to 724

July 4, 2008

By NIÑA JANE A. SOURIBIO

ILOILO – Diarrhea cases in this province have now reached 724, reported the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

The figure could still rise, said Provincial Health Officer Patricia Grace Trabado, as municipalities grapple for potable water.

Respiratory and skin diseases are also being looked into by the PHO, said Trabado.
The town of Barotac Viejo, one of the municipalities devastated by Typhoon “Frank,” has the highest number of diarrhea cases with 43. It was followed by Miag-ao with 23.

Respiratory ailments like colds, on the other hand, reached 1,877 across the province.
There were 1,285 recorded cases of various skin diseases, PHO revealed.

“Health officers were dispatched to evacuation centers to prevent the outbreak of diseases,” Trabado said.

She had one simple advice to Ilonggos: boil their drinking water first.

Diarrhea cases have gone up to 724 cases from the previously 233 cases, respiratory tract infection to 1,077 from 1,029, headache to 1,140 from 628, injuries to 2,045 from 1,048, and skin infection to 1,425 from 448.

Trabado stressed, however, that the situation could not be considered alarming.

She advised people to seek early intervention if they are sick by going to the nearest barangay health stations, rural health units, and even submit to medical missions being conducted in their areas./PN

‘LEPTOS’ KILLS 2

July 4, 2008

City posts two more post-typhoon deaths

By DAVID ISRAEL SINAY

ILOILO City – Two died of infectious leptospirosis in this city, bringing to three the number of casualties since Typhoon “Frank” left.

Jose Militar, former village chief of Brgy. Banuyao, La Paz district, expired yesterday.

The other leptospirosis victim was 28-year-old Severo Villamucho, a resident of Brgy. San Roque, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras but worked and temporarily resided in Mandurriao district.

Villamucho had been hospitalized at the Western Visayas Medical Center since June 27. He died on Monday.

Leptospirosis is a water-borne disease usual in flooded areas. It is caused by the contamination of the flood water with animal urine. Infection begins when the contaminated water comes in contact with broken skin.

Friday last week, this city recorded its first post-typhoon casualty from a water-born disease. The 21-year old Florence Natalie Dagohoy of Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao was the first recorded casualty of diarrhea.

Yesterday, Mayor Jerry Treñas ordered the release of P20,000 for the procurement of antibiotics – like doxycycline and profilaxis – for the treatment of these diseases.

The medicines will be dispatched to various health centers in the metropolis.

City Health Office (CHO) chief Dr. Urminico Baronda said prone to infection are those with open wounds and treading on murky and contaminated waters.

Treñas urged residents to immediately see a doctor if they think they are sick.

But he admitted that the CHO lacks manpower – doctors, nurses, midwives, etc. – in health centers.

Still, Baronda remains confident that post-typhoon illnesses, especially gastrointestinal diseases, would be manageable.

His office has recorded some 50 cases of stomach problems.

CLEAN WATER
Treñas yesterday said water supplies being distributed by the city’s fire trucks and water tanks are potable drinking water and not other purposes.

Treñas said the local government resorted to water distribution as 75 percent of the city’s 418,000 population are without available drinking water.

The residents’ need for potable should be prioritized and attended to, the mayor stressed.
Thousands of bottled water being provided are not sufficient to the daily demands of city residents, the mayor admitted.

Several water treatment plants are now stationed in critical areas, where water sources and supplies are scarce.

The city has stationed three small water treatment plants from Ayala-Metro Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) compound.

MIWD presently provides free three to five gallons of water to city residents daily.
The water treatment plant the Spanish government donated will be stationed in Jaro district, Treñas said.

The Department of Health and the City Health Office had issued health advisories on water-borne diseases that may emerge – diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and leptospirosis, among others.

Typhoon “Frank” swamped almost half of the city’s land area with water and mud, contaminating almost all sources of potable water. Even some water refilling stations were not spared by the inundation.

The CHO advised residents to boil first their drinking water./PN

New AIDS threat emerging in India call centers (3 p.m.)

June 22, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A new AIDS threat is rising in India’s numerous call centers, where young staff are increasingly having unprotected sex with multiple partners in affairs developed during night shifts, a top AIDS expert has warned.

While India has made great strides in bringing down its HIV infection rate, the promiscuity among “call center Romeos” is a great concern, Dr. Suniti Solomon, who detected the first HIV case in India in 1986, told an international medical conference Saturday.

The United Nations, however, still estimates there are some 2.5 million Indians living with HIV and AIDS now.

“India has reached a plateau of the infections,” Solomon told the International Congress on Infectious Diseases, which ends Sunday.

Her concern now is the call centers, where many of the young staff work at night to correspond with the daytime working hours of their American and European clients.

“They have all the money. They huddle together in the night. They are young, they are sexually active, so naturally they start,” Solomon, who runs an AIDS center in the southern city of Chennai, told The Associated Press in a separate interview.

She said at least three or four call center workers visit her clinic every week to get tested for HIV because they are worried after having unprotected sex.

It is estimated that India’s call centers employ some 1.3 million people, mostly youths fresh out of school and colleges, earning a starting salary of 25,000 rupees (US$600) a month, more than a government doctor’s paycheck.

“You will see call center Romeos are a major high risk for HIV,” Solomon said.

There are no figures for how many call center workers are infected with HIV.

Citing confessions by the visitors to her center, Solomon said groups of young men and women rent apartments along the beach during the weekends and end up having multiple-partner sex.

“If they are having sex just among themselves, and all are non-infected it is fine. But if there is one person who has gone out of this group and brought in the virus, it will spread to everyone,” she said.

While the “call center Romeo” situation is a reflection of recent liberal values, India’s anti-AIDS fight is also hampered by society’s coexisting conservatism, Solomon told the conference.

She said this is evident in Hindu activists’ opposition to circumcision – which is proven to help inhibit HIV transmission – on the grounds that it is against tradition and religion of Hindu-majority India.

Solomon said she does not expect India to accept circumcision for preventing HIV infections. A recent government study to gauge the acceptance for circumcision triggered a massive backlash by Hindu fundamentalists, who called it “obnoxious” and “a conspiracy.”

“If you go out into the streets and say I will do this (circumcision) to reduce HIV, there will be a chaos,” she said. “Vaccines have failed. Microbicides have failed. This is one tool we have in hand but we can’t use it.” (AP)

Gov’t looking at possibility of rehabilitating BNPP – Reyes

June 8, 2008

Reviving its nuclear program remains as one of the options being considered by the government amid rising crude prices, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said yesterday.

Reyes said that with oil prices reaching more than $ 138 a barrel, the government is looking at the possibility of rehabilitating the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

“I have taken the position that we have to revisit the nuclear option because we don’t want a situation where there will be power shortage. We are encouraging the development of alternative sources of energy, alternative ways of generating power,” Reyes said at the weekly news forum at Sulo Hotel in Quezon City.

The BNPP, whose construction began in 1976 and was completed in 1984 at a cost of $ 2.3 billion, was the response of the Marcos administration to the energy crisis of the late 1970s.

Then President Ferdinand Marcos saw nuclear power as the best way forward in terms of meeting the country’s future needs and reducing reliance on imported oil.

The 630-megawatt power plant cost the Filipino taxpayer a total of $ 460 million on a debt of $ 1.06 billion though it never produced a single watt of electricity.

In 1986, President Corazon Aquino mothballed the BNPP because of safety defects and sued its builder for overpricing and allegations of bribery.

In 2007, there were reports that the country made its final payment on the plant in April last year. Reyes said only three months ago, officials of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in the country to evaluate the feasibility of commissioning the BNPP.

He said the tentative position of IAEA officials was that the country can rehabilitate the plant at a cost of 0 million for it to generate 630 megawatts of power.

Reyes said the rehabilitation may be expensive but the government is looking at what the plant can do the country in the long run.

“There’s no option that you will take that has no cost. If you’re looking at an option that has no cost, that option doesn’t exist,” he said.

He said before the rehabilitation, a complete feasibility study must be done and this will last for two years. The rehabilitation itself will take five years, he added.

The energy chief also said that rehabilitating BNPP would be faster than building a new plant, which may take one and a half decades.

“If you build a new plant, it would take 15 years to build it. Just looking for a site, the place where you locate the plant that will take a long time. You have to locate it in a place not vulnerable to earthquake and typhoons,” Reyes said. (Edmer F. Panesa)

“Take note of this, BNPP had survived earthquakes and typhoons,” he pointed out.

Besides nuclear power, Reyes said the government is looking at renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and geothermal, as well as alternative sources of fuel.

“We can’t have a situation where we do away with oil and coal. We will have blackouts then or we will have shortage in power supply,” he explained.

Without power, Reyes warned that investors would not come in and those who are already here will go away.(MB)

===============

My Take:

This is bullshit!

With the kind of government we have? We are not safe.  Yung mga advance countries na nga at mga disiplinadong tao pa na nagpapatakbo ng plantang nukleyar e nadaleng naaksidente, tayo pa kaya?

Baka sa pagpapatayo pa lang e panay mahinang klaseng materyal ang gawin dahil sa kikbak, komisyon at bukol.

tayo ang kawawa dito.  tutulan natin ito!

GMA signs Cheaper Medicine Law

June 7, 2008

By Marvin Sy
Saturday, June 7, 2008

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The long wait is over.

Filipinos can now expect more low-cost medicine in the market with the signing into law of the Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicine Act of 2008.

The signing ceremony for Republic Act 9052 was held yesterday at the Laguna Provincial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Laguna with the principal authors of the bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate joining President Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyo said the existing generics law is an important piece of legislation that aims to bring down the cost of medicine in the country but it is “incomplete.”

“Now with the cheaper and quality medicine law, we have completed, I believe, our legislative reforms in bringing
affordable medicine to the people,” the President said.

RA 9052 allows the conduct of parallel importation of patented medicine from other countries where the prices are significantly lower than the prevailing price in the Philippines.

The government, through the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), has been conducting parallel importation of medicine from countries such as Pakistan and India, selling these at state-run pharmacies aimed at the poor communities.

However, the PITC has faced strong resistance from the multinational pharmaceutical firms.

Sen. Manuel Roxas II, principal author of the bill in the Senate, said the PITC can now continue with its parallel importation with the signing of the new law.

Roxas said the PITC can now include more brands and types of medicine in its list of imports and it can also import higher volumes.

Apart from the PITC, Roxas said that even private groups or organizations can now import medicine directly from other countries provided that they register themselves with the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

Under the law, the BFAD plays an important role as it is the agency tasked to ensure that all of the imported medicine is of high quality.

The law strengthens the BFAD by allowing it to retain its revenues for the upgrading of its facilities, equipment and human resources.

Roxas explained that by directly importing the medicine, the private entities would be able to save more since they no longer have to go through any middlemen.

The new law also provides for the use of the “early working principle” which allows local generic medicine manufacturers to test, produce and register their generic versions of patented drugs so that these could be sold immediately upon the expiration of the patents.

In order to prevent the owners of patented drugs from extending the term of their patents by declaring newly discovered uses for the components of their medicine, the law now prohibits the grant of new patents using this provision.

The law also allows the government to use patented drugs when the interest of the public is at stake.

Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health, the President has the power to impose price ceilings on various drugs, including those that are used for chronic illnesses, for the prevention of diseases and those in the Philippine National Drug Formulary Essential Drug list.

Drug outlets or pharmacies are now required to carry a variety of brands, including those brought in through parallel importation, in order to provide consumers with more choices.

The Generics Act was amended so that all generic drugs would now carry a label that has the statement of the BFAD about the therapeutic efficacy of the drug.

The Pharmacy Law was also amended to allow supermarkets, convenience stores and other retail establishments to sell over-the-counter medicine.

A congressional oversight committee would be created to monitor the implementation of the new law.

The Department of Health has been tasked to formulate the implementing rules and regulations for the new law within 120 days of its signing.

“We will not allow anything, not even a comma in the IRR, that would dilute the efficacy of this law. We will continue the fight, we will continue to monitor the implementation of the law in order to ensure that our people would have access to quality affordable medicine,” Roxas said.

“This new law will bring about competition. The prices of medicine will go down because of the increase in competition in the country,” Roxas said.

Healthier Philippines

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday gave assurances of a “healthier” Philippines as more Filipinos could now afford treatment for both common and potentially fatal diseases.

Duque said the DOH is set to launch very affordable treatment packs for common diseases and put 15,000 Botika ng Barangay (BnB) nationwide by 2010.

“DOH would make available treatment packs for common diseases at maximum prices of P100 for a one- to two-week treatment course,” Duque said.

The health chief explained that the country spends a total of P200 billion for health, half of which is spent on drugs and medicine.

“Since the cost of medicine in the country has been consistently and continuously prohibitive, the poor have limited access to these essential goods, bringing a perpetual cycle of impoverishment, deaths and diseases,” he pointed out.

“This law breathes new hope and life to all of us and gives a chance to the government to prove that health comes first before business interests,” Duque said.

Even labor unions are getting ready to import and sell medicine directly to workers with the new law.

Leaders of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, Alliance of Progressive Labor and others met with the representative of the PITC and Roxas recently to discuss how their groups could distribute medicine to their members and ensure that they would benefit from the lowering of prices of medicine.

TUCP secretary-general and former senator Ernesto Herrera said they had been waiting for this kind of measure for the sake of the laborers.

He expressed appreciation for the preparatory meetings with the PITC so that they could start immediately the importation of cheap medicine.

Herrera said laborers need maintenance medicine that are costly at present.

‘Fight not yet over’

The principal sponsor of the Cheaper Medicine Bill in the House, meantime, said the fight for low-cost drugs is not yet over.

“Proper implementation is the key to the measure’s promise of bringing down the prices of medicine,” said Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez, trade and commerce committee chairman.

“The next battleground for the law is in the drafting of its implementing rules and regulations (IRRs), where interest groups are expected to lobby for an interpretation of the provisions that will serve them,” Alvarez said.

“But the law cannot be tweaked or twisted because a House-Senate oversight committee that the law created will be looking over the shoulders of the agencies that will issue the IRRs,” he said.

An inter-agency panel composed of the DOH, Department of Trade and Industry, Intellectual Property Office, and BFAD will issue the implementing rules.

Alvarez said in addition to the rules, administrative measures are needed, including the strengthening of BFAD’s technical and manpower capabilities so it can properly evaluate pharmaceutical preparations. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz(PStar)

WHO Warns of ‘Tobacco Offensive’ Vs. Youths

May 31, 2008

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The World Health Organization (WHO) today raised the alarm on the tobacco marketing net that targets half a billion young people in the Western Pacific Region, warning of the industry’s marketing ploys to hook youngsters into addiction at an early age.

In a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, WHO said the tobacco industry preys on the vulnerability of young people, knowing that they underestimate the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine. WHO called on policy-makers to support the ban on advertising, sponsorship and promotion called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. WHO warned that:

* The more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to use tobacco.
* Widespread tobacco advertising makes tobacco use look normal and makes it difficult for young people to believe that smoking can kill.

“Youngsters are led to believe that certain types of cigarettes do not contain nicotine, when in fact they do,” said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “These tactics, along with the bombardment of messages through billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio and television ads, as well as sports and fashion sponsorships and other ploys, are meant to deceive young people into trying their first stick.”

WHO emphasized that research showed that only a total ban can break the tobacco marketing net. Partial bans merely allow companies to shift their vast resources from one promotional tactic to another, including falsely associating use of their products with desirable qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal, as well as exciting outdoor activities and adventure. Other than advertisements on billboards, in magazines, and on television, radio and the internet, the industry also ensures its products are highly visible in movies, in the world of fashion and in charity events. (WHO / pinoypress.net)

Tobacco companies sponsor sports and entertainment events, hand out branded items and advertise at point of sales to attract young people. Girls and young female adults are specially targeted. The rise in tobacco use in this group, the tobacco industry’s special focus, is a challenge that has to be dealt with urgently, Dr Omi said.

‘Philippine hospitals not good for health’–expert

May 27, 2008

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:15:00 05/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Hospitals in the Philippines may not be good for your health, warned a UK-based scientist visiting the country.

Unknown to many, medical devices made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic such as IV bags and tubing, examination gloves, hospital flooring and plastic food wrap contain phthalates — chemicals that can damage the liver, kidneys and lungs and can also cause birth defects, especially among males.

This is according to Ruth Stringer, international science and policy coordinator for Health Care Without Harm.

Health Care Without Harm, says its website, is an international coalition of 473 organizations in more than 50 countries working to transform the health care sector so it is no longer a source of harm to people and the environment.

Stringer is also former deputy head of environmental group Greenpeace International’s science unit.

Stringer said medical devices made of flexible PVC can leach the phthalate DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) into patients.

Citing studies in Europe and the United States, exposure to DEHP has been linked to severe health problems, including infertility, immune system damage, impaired childhood development, hormone disruption and cancer.

Patients may be harmed when exposed to DEHP leaks from PVC medical devices, Stringer said in a press conference on Monday.

Animal studies, she noted, had documented that the developing male reproductive system was the most sensitive to DEHP exposure.

Stringer said that a recent study found a link between prenatal exposure to DEHP and reproductive changes in boys while another found that higher concentrations of phthalates in breast milk may decrease sex hormone concentrations in baby boys.

“Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of phthalates lower levels of sex hormones and they [target] the testicles,” said Stringer, who arrived in the country on 20 on a three-week study.

While medical establishments in the United States and Europe have started to take action against vinyl products — including the proper labeling of plastic products and resorting to other alternatives — doctors and health care experts in the Philippines have yet to become aware of its hazards, she said.

Last week, Stringer visited three hospitals in Metro Manila, where she found “many” PVC products that could “easily be replaced.”

She identified these hospitals as San Lazaro Hospital, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Philippine Heart Center.

She said there were alternative plastic medical devices that hospitals could use such as those made from polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, silicone, ethylene, vinyl acetate and multi-layer laminate plastics.

She also urged lawmakers to push for a bill making mandatory the labeling of plastic materials to properly guide consumers.

(PDI)

Fetal, Maternal Deaths in Philippines ‘Alarming’

May 26, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The anti-poverty groups Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and Womanhealth Philippines have raised alarm over the reported increase in fetal deaths due to short gestation and low birth weight as shown in the latest study of the National Statistics Office released this month.

“This report punctuates the problem on maternal health that remains a challenge to the government in meeting the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health towards completely eradicating poverty in the country,” said Joel Saracho, GCAP Philippines Coordinator.

In a paper that Mercedes Fabros of Womanhealth Philippines wrote, the Department of Health recommends all pregnant women to have at least four prenatal visits, with emphasis on receiving care as early as the first trimester. Prenatal care includes advice to expectant mothers on nutrition and health care, education on the symptoms of risk conditions, examination, screening, immunization and micronutrient supplementation.

“The proportion of women attended by skilled service providers has improved over the past years with almost three fourths or 70.4 percent of women having at least 4 prenatal visits. However, only a little more than half of them or 53 percent had their first visit during the first trimester that is the most critical stage,” said Fabros.

GCAP and Womenhealth Philippines have launched a campaign to address maternal and child mortality by weaving the stories of mothers in the communities in a tapestry of tales and help these women reclaim their right to maternal health as provided for in the UN Millenium Development Goals.

The sharing of stories started last Saturday in Barangay Bago Bantay in Quezon City. “We will bring this to other barangays in Metro Manila where maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy cases are high,” Saracho said.

According to the NSO study, the National Capital Region (NCR) posted the highest number of fetal deaths with 2,550 cases or 24.6 percent of the total in the country’s 17 regions. Regions IV-A and VII ranked second and third with 1,681 and 1,264, respectively.

“As alarming as fetal deaths is maternal mortality that contribute to 14 percent of the total deaths of women aged 15-49. Each day, 10 Filipino women die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. These are all preventable if poor women are given access to correct health services,” said Fabros.

Threat to life while giving birth

Freda Atienza knew giving birth to her second child will be difficult. Three months into her pregnancy, her husband left her and their eight year old daughter for another woman. She’s also been diagnosed as having a cyst in the right ovary. She’s been in and out the hospital for excessive bleeding. According to her, she has mastered the art of enduring and suppressing her pain.

On September 21, 2008 at around 11:30 in the evening, her water bag broke. Accompanied only by her eight year old daughter, she sought help from the Ramos General Hospital in Quezon City. She was told there was no bed for her. After three hours, she was referred to the nearby Sioson General Hospital.

Having had a previous caesarian operation, the 37-year old Freda was told that the hospital has no available anesthesiologist. The hospital also asked for P10,000 deposit but Freda said she does not have the full amount. The staff of Sioson Hospital then advised her to go the Quezon City General Hospital but to first go back to Ramos Hospital to ask a nurse to accompany her.

The pain has taken toll on Freda. At this point, she admitted that the staff of the two hospitals were virtually dealing with and giving instructions to her eight year old daughter.

Her daughter decided to go home to ask help from their landlady. She even climbed the terrace leading to the unit of their landlady’s house to wake her up.

Her landlady, Nelia Pagulayan, 42 accompanied her to Quezon City General Hospital, where they were told that it was a Sunday, and there is no available operating room for her. There were talks about her being sent to yet another hospital.

But Pagulayan insisted that she be treated in QCGH. Preda was bleeding profusely at that time and Pagulayan feared that she might die on arrival at the next, if there is indeed another available hospital without an excuse to treat her.

Still half-conscious at that time, Freda learned from conversations between the doctor and the staff who brought her to a delivery room that theirs is 40-60 chance.

One of them asks her to pray for a miracle.

“Misis, magdasal ka na kung marunong kang magdasal. Doktor lang kami. Diyos na ang may hawak sa buhay mo,” Freda recounted.

A few more minutes later, the doctors are almost ready to give up on her.

“Patay na ako para sa kanila. Pero sinabihan nila akong lumaban alang-alang sa baby ko. Dahil lumalaban siya,” Freda said.

At 4:45 am the following day, she gave birth to a boy. She would later learn that the doctors actually forced the baby out of her just to save him. They stayed for several more days in the hospital to ensure that both Freda and her child are now safe.

Child carrying a child

At the age of 13, Ellen (not her real name) is already carrying a child. When Ellen first sought prenatal check ups from a lying-in clinic in Quezon City, she was refused. The staff explained that their policies require them to give prenatal check up to expecting moms who are at least 20 years old.

She was able to get two check ups at the government-run Quezon City General Hospital.

Unlike Freda, Ellen went directly to the QCGH after experiencing pain. Unlike Freda, Ellen was with her husband, who was also a teenager. Fortunately, her parents are with them.

At the hospital, instead of immediately addressing her pain, the staff required her to first get a blood test and a urinalysis. Ellen was also given a list of medicines and things they would need in giving birth.

“Bilhin daw muna bago ako manganak,” she said.

Ellen’s companions were able to buy some of the things they need.

“Kulang pa daw sabi nila. Mabuti na lang naawa iyong isang doctor sa amin,” she recounted.

Ellen was told to stay in a labor room, which they later learned has to be paid for P200.

The doctor told Ellen that she needs to deliver by C-section, since as she is not yet fully developed as a woman who can give birth.

“Maliit daw ang sipit-sipitan ko. Hindi daw kakayanin ng normal,” Ellen said.

She gave birth to a boy.

The hospital however told them that both mother and child cannot leave the hospital until they settle all the bills. Aside from what they already bought, they were to pay the hospital P7,000 for the medicines and another P11,000 for her C-section delivery.

Fortunately, the Social Welfare Administration shouldered the payment for the C-section. Ellen’s family paid for the remainder of the bill.

A month after giving birth, Ellen’s teenage husband left her and their son.

“It is fortunate that Freda survived her sure death at that time. In her condition and accompanied only by a child, she should have been helped at the least by the two semi-private hospitals that refused her for various reasons,” Fabros explained.

Saracho said Ellen would not have suffered too much if QCGH staff exerted the better part of their time assisting her than worrying how to replenish their medical stock. There are more stories, probably worse than what happened to Preda and Ellen.

“We want to give the issue a face. We want our national government and local government units to listen. Something must be done to curb maternal and child mortality. No woman, no mother deserves to die while giving life,” said Saracho. (Global Call to Action Against Poverty / pinoypress.net)

UNILAB to assist biotech firms market natural ingredients

May 24, 2008

United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab), one of the country’s biggest pharmacuetical firms, is interested in helping biotech companies extracting natural ingredients as source of compounds for the manufacture of medicines.

Jose Maria Echave, Unilab’s vice president for business development, said the company is encouraging scientists to bring their natural pharmaceutical products for possible development and collaboration in marketing the same.

Echave made the statement during the 4th Philippine Biotechnology Venture Summit held at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.

He noted the great potential of the natural ingredients industry. “If you have a very good natural product, we are willing to listen,” Echave said.

The Unilab official added the trend now in pharmaceuticals is to go biologicals. He added that the Philippines has the edge in this potentially huge market since the country has a strong natural ingredients industry.

“In the pharmaceuticals sector the way to go now is biologicals. The era of blockbuster synthetic drugs is about to end,” he said.

Unilab is also encouraging scientists to use biotechnology to develop vaccines. Right now, a Filipino company, Servac Philippines Corp. is developing an anti-rabies serum from the antibodies produced by horses. Servac hopes to make the vaccine commercially available by the end of the year.

Another area in which biotechnology can venture is the development of dengue diagnostic kits. “Anything portable, anything you can bring down to the lowest unit to the community will be very, very useful. It has to be at a good price point, ang tinitingnan namin is P5. If you can come up with drugs that is at P5, then we can do business,” Echave said.

He noted that natural ingredients must be backed up by clinical evidence to make a big splash in the world market.

“There are ways by which we can develop our resources but there has to be a good clinical evidence. Hindi puwedeng endorsement lang,” he said.

Data from the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP) showed the Philippines has over 1,500 identified medicinal plants. Some of these plants have been endorsed by the Department of Health (DoH).

These include bayabas, ba-wang, ampalaya, sambong, yerba buena, lagundi, akapulko, pansit-pansitan, tsaang-gubat and niyog-niyogan.

Pascual Laboratories, Inc., the second biggest Filipino pharmaceutical company, has succeeded in marketing phytomedicines (herbal medicines) with anti-cough medicine from lagundi popularly known as Ascof and a medicine from sambong to help prevent kidney stones, Re-Leaf.

Pascual Lab’s Dr. Eliseo Banaynal said the government can help the country’s natural ingredients industry venture deeper into pharmaceuticals industry.

Banaynal said government should help the industry by coming out with a geographical mapping of medicinal plants. – biolife news service(Malaya)

Editorial Cartoon: Coal is Cool.

May 23, 2008

Real cool!

Pia Cayetano on drugs bill: What’s taking Arroyo so long?

May 22, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday to immediately sign into law a measure that seeks to lower the cost of medicines in the Philippines.

Cayetano said she found it unusual that the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, certified as urgent by Arroyo, remains unsigned three weeks after Congress ratified it on April 29.

“I would like to think that the President will stand by her word that she is for this bill. It took Congress more than three years to have it passed. Now the fate of this landmark measure is in her hands,” said Cayetano, who chairs the Senate health committee.

She also belittled the pressure allegedly being exerted by US Lobby groups on the Philippine government to derail the bill’s enactment into law.

At the same time, she vowed to continue to work on several measures that will strengthen the bill, like boosting the capability of the Bureau of Food and Drugs to screen and monitor the quality of both branded and generic drugs in the market. Marilyn Baduria, contributor

Davao’s tribute to Bob Marley helps to fight cancer

May 19, 2008

A TRIBUTE TO MARLEY. Raymond Aranjuez, front man of the local Ragged band, performs at the Taboan in Matina Town Square during the free Reggae Night concert on Sunday, May 11. The date happens to be the death anniversary of Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley, the British-African reggae musician who brought “mainstream cultural acceptance of reggae music outside of Africa.” (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

REGGAE FESTIVAL. Audience are engrossed in great music during the Reggae Night. Various local bands perform at the free concert to celebrate cancer prevention month. A reggae festival is slated around the world this year to “confirm the universality of reggae,” according to Bob Marley’s website. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

HEALING WAILERS. Local reggae group, The Ragged band, performs for free during the celebration of the cancer prevention month. The band also pays tribute to reggae icon, Bob Marley who died 26 years ago of melanoma, a malignant skin cancer. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Joan Soco, former Mutya ng Dabaw, encourages Davaoeños to support the local music talents. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Editorial Cartoon: Pushed to Poverty

May 19, 2008

Gutom na nga, ginugutom pa.