Many Filipinos have certain misconceptions about health, health practices and certain diseases. According to medical authorities, some of these misconceptions, especially on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), are risky with the rise in adolescent sexual practices. A study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation in 2002 has found out that 95% of young adults have heard of HIV/AIDS but 73% believe there is no chance of them getting the disease, and 12.5% would think there is a cure to it.
Getting an HIV. Some Filipinos think that if one gets HIV, he is sure to die of AIDS. Contrary to this misconception, an AIDS-afflicted person can live a full life and be a productive member of society if he does away with his unhealthy lifestyle and works with specialists as soon as he finds out about the disease. Other people also believe that (a) one can get HIV by kissing someone with HIV, (b) people with HIV should be avoided, and (c) only gay men, promiscuous women or with two or more sexual partners, and druggies can get HIV. Healthcare authorities attempt to correct these misconceptions by saying that (a) one cannot get HIV by kissing a person with HIV or being kissed in parts of the body, (b) a person with HIV should not be avoided or discriminated against because the disease is not contagious, and (c) HIV knows no age, educational background, social standing or gender of a person.
Measles vaccination, heart health. Some parents have also the wrong belief that measles vaccination for children nine months old to eight years old does not need to be administered to children who have been vaccinated previously. The Department of Health attests to the need for children to be given vaccination twice for their lifelong immunity against measles. On heart matters, some Filipinos are led to believe that since heart disease is hereditary, there is nothing that can be done to avoid it. The truth, according to heart specialists, is that one can take steps to lower his risk of developing a heart disease or keep such disease under control. Some people also believe that being overweight and obese is good because they are an evidence that that they are in good economic status. Doctors say that being obese and overweight is not good for the heart and can increase the chance of developing many health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
Family planning, safe sex. Many Filipinos believe that the natural methods for family planning are just as reliable as the modern ones. This is not true, say health experts, because the natural methods such as withdrawal, rhythm, basal body temperature, or the so-called cervical mucus, have been found to have low effectiveness rates. They also attempt to correct a misconception that many women get pregnant or sexually transmitted disease (STD) only when they have frequent sex. They say that a woman can get pregnant by having unprotected sex only once, and that the frequency of a sexual activity does not protect any one from getting the STD.
Are you guilty of any of these? Well, it is not too late and be educated. Please share some and help other readers be informed.
Filipinos. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the government’s Department of Science and Technology conducted surveys in 2004 on the general health of Filipinos, malnutrition and oral health of Filipino school-age children. The results of the health survey on 4,753 adults 20 years old and above show that 90% of them have at least one of any of the risk factors to atherosclerosis or hardening of the artery walls, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and smoking. The total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides levels among the adults rise with age peaking between 40 and 70 years old. Diabetes has a prevalence of 3.4% rising with adults 50 to 59 years of age, while 3.2% of them have impaired fasting blood sugar (FBS) or is in the pre-diabetes stage, and the blood pressure increases with age peaking in the 60 to 69 age group. Android obesity is more prevalent among females at 54.8% than males at 12.1%.
Another survey on malnutrition shows malnutrition is prevalent among 0-5 and 6-10 year-old children, resulting in their being underweight and under-height. Among the school-age children, the boys are at greater risk of having malnutrition than the girls. Anemia, a condition in which blood is deficient in red blood cells, is prevalent among six-month old and one-year old children. Their number has steadily increased at an alarming rate since 1993, the survey shows. As of 2003, anemia is a public health problem among pregnant and lactating women. Still another survey, this time on oral health, shows that 97% of first graders in public schools suffer from tooth decay or caries, which remain untreated, with some of the cases leading to intra-oral infections and unnecessary pain. The causes of tooth decay have been traced to unhealthy diet, lack of access to fluoride, and absence of the habit of daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
Thais. In Thailand, the people generally have better health because of the expansion by the government of the national healthcare program. Shortage on health personnel, however, has remained as a healthcare problem throughout the country. HIV/AIDS is its serious problem. Medical statistics show that 58,000 adults and children have died from AIDS since the first case was reported in 1984. While the government continues to administer anti-retroviral drugs to more than 80,000 HIV/AIDS patients, it also has to deal with some of the people’s health problems like heart diseases, cancer, hypertension and mental disorders. About 618 per 100,000 persons are afflicted with heart diseases with mortality rate of 49 persons per day. Mental health problems account for 5% of the Thai population, with 1% of children facing problems with the development of their intellect.
Singaporeans. The state of health of Singaporeans is good by international standards. Many people, however, also suffer from major non-communicable diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, pneumonia, diabetes, strokes and hypertension. In 2010, new cases of HIV/AIDS have been reported, with 95% of them acquired through heterosexual transmission, and 47% detected during the course of their medical care.
Malaysians. A survey of 820 Malaysian adults has revealed that 25% of them are overweight, 20.3% chronic energy deficient, 68.4% suffering from malnutrition, and 80% have high risks of cardiovascular diseases.
As the 12th most populous country in the world, the Philippines is home to the huge Filipino race. As a matter of fact, there are over are over 90 million people sharing the 300,000 sq km area. Along with generous human resources, the country is also blessed with bountiful natural wonders. The 7,107 islands showcase many different land and water attractions such as the Banaue Rice Terraces, Chocolate Hills, Hundred Islands, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano and Lake, etc. There is enough room for every Filipino, even for foreigners allured by these natural gifts. Besides, local hospitality suggests the likelihood to welcome newbies in town.
Human and natural resources, in all abundance, are the country’s economic ticket. The dynamic service sector is banking on these national assets in order to encourage further growth. In 2010, it has recorded 55% economic contribution leaving agriculture and industry with 14% and 31%, respectively. National economy, in the same year, posted 7% GDP growth. No wonder, the country ranked 32nd among the largest economies in the world, and 12th in Asia. Such development is expected to curb the 26% poverty incidence along with the 7% unemployment rate.
Although poverty is rampant, life goes on by adapting to the demands of time. Limited budget amounting to less than Php10,000 ($200) per month, is structured to meet basic household needs such as food, utility, and education. The market responds by offering cheaper goods to thwart drastic slowdown of demands. Most likely, prime commodities are locally produced. In effect, inflation triggered by unstable global prices shall not cripple the local market. That is why the Philippines performed better than other Asian countries during the global recession (2008-2009) in the past. In the same way, public services are made affordable to suit the pocket of the masses. Transport, for instance, is made cheaper via alternative means such as jeepneys and tricycles. Nonetheless, cars and busses are accessible for more convenient ride.
Amidst these circumstances, the Philippine government has got the back of its citizens. Basically, it employs the presidential system that is comprised of three co-equal bodies such as the executive, legislative, and judiciary. The President is the national leader, working along with the executive cabinet. There is a bicameral legislature comprised of senators and district representatives elected into office to legislate bills. Judicial functions are left to the Chief Justice, appointed as head of the Supreme Court, along with his associate justices. All these governing bodies work independently to achieve national ends while keeping the ideal check and balance.
As much as the government is empowered to act for common good, ultimate power rests on the people. The 1986 People Power Movement is testament to the sovereign voice of the people by virtue of national democracy. It is not surprising why the 1987 Constitution holds precious human rights such as freedom of speech and assembly to foster peaceful dialogue between the people and the State. These rights are also meant to promote equal citizenry given the prevalent social inequality. The idea best explains the essence of social justice which implies that, “those who have less in life should have more in law.” Whenever people are suppressed by tyranny, they are left to make the most of their supreme collective rights.
Although the Philippine population manifests 25% crude birth rate in 2011 (CIA World Factbook), 5% crude mortality rate has been revealed in the current year. Most likely, it is triggered by the top death causing diseases in the country. Here are some of the commonly occurring diseases that brought about fatal outcome to many Filipinos.
Cancer made it to the top deadly diseases in the nation. Such degenerative disease is brought about by abnormal growth of cells in the body. The condition can affect major parts of the human anatomy such as breast, colon, cervix, lungs, etc. Among other cases, breast cancer happens to be the most prevalent with 16% incidence rate of cancer-related deaths recorded in the previous year. In 2010, there are 12 million Filipinos diagnosed with cancer according to the World Health Organization. Most likely, cancer is not diagnosed in early stages due to inaccessible medical services hence the slim chance of survival. Approximately 5% of incidence rate increase each year has been projected should poor medical attention continues to prevail.
Cardiovascular diseases are still on the list. As a matter of fact, heart problems caused 20% of deaths back in 2007. These are triggered by the blockage of major arteries in the heart that is likely to lead into a heart attack. More often than not, the condition occurs right after some festive occasions such as Christmas when people are confronted by unhealthy delights. Ingestion of too much amount of fats, salt, and sugar found on these foodstuffs can trigger heart artery impediment.
Stroke, which is the sibling of heart infirmities, is another dreaded illness. The disease, which is commonly caused by hypertension, may come as an ischemic or a hemorrhagic condition. In either case, the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen thereby hampering the normal functions of the nervous system. Ischemic stroke happens when there is blockage of blood supply into the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, is caused by the outburst of blood vessel into the brain. Ischemic cases tend to be more prevalent with 70% incidence rate, leaving 30% to cases of hemorrhagic stroke.
Pulmonary diseases join the circle of popular health culprits causing 7% of national deaths. This sort of condition arises from the obstruction of the respiration process particularly the inflow and outflow of air in the lungs. One of the most notorious causes of respiratory illness is cigarette smoking that accounts for 15% incidence rate. Habitual smokers may develop chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and the like. All these can lead to death without medical intervention administered before the condition gets serious.
There are many other deadly diseases haunting Filipino communities. In 2025, 380 million of the entire populace are likely to develop diabetes. The condition may elicit health complications leading to serious diseases in the likes of kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. Apart from diabetes, the registry of fatal diseases includes dengue fever, malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia. Nonetheless, the Department of Health has launched relevant health programs to combat these death-causing diseases.