RH Bill Circus

RH BillRH Bill


     In the seemingly never-ending discussions and debates whether or not the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill should be passed in Congress, the side shows became more entertaining than the main feature, making it HEALTHbeat’s Top Health News of 2011. Many stood and are still standing for what they truly believe in on the controversial issue, while many others are in the issue just for the pleasure of grandstanding. 

     Interesting news items on RH Bill were in abundance this year that putting it all here would require supplement pages. So, we picked a few that really tickled people’s imagination, if not caused more confusion.


Voluntary Blood Donation

Enchong Dee and OIC Undersecretary Gerardo BayugoEnchong Dee and OIC Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo


     “More blood, more life.” This was the global theme for World Blood Day on June 14. This was also the theme adopted by the Department of Health when it observed the National Voluntary Blood Donation Month in July. A few heeded the call in blood letting activities, mostly from coming from the health sector and some from the police and the military. Others were already regular donors and for a few newbies they, shall we say, “forced volunteers.”  The act of voluntarily donating blood has not exactly creeped in the consciousness of Filipinos.  Many would only think of donating blood when a member of the family or a close friend is the one in need.


Woeful Suicide


     On February 8, controversial former military chief and Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes was reported to have committed suicide while visiting his mother’s grave at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City where he shot himself in the chest using a Caliber .45 pistol which pierced through his heart. Before this incident, he has been in the hot seat due to allegations that he received P50 million in “send-off” money after he retired from the AFP as claimed by retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa.


Smokin’ Superstars

Smokin' SuperstarsSmokin' Superstars


     When health and showbiz news combined this year, the issue was smokin’ hot because it was dangerously treading on artistic freedom. But shouldn’t we all be concerned about the health of the people too?

     On June 2, when the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced the extension of the submission of scripts for the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino also called on participating movie producers to exclude scenes that show actors and actresses smoking cigarettes. The MMFF runs from December 25, 2011 to January 7, 2012, and within that period no foreign films are shown in cinemas.


Iligtas sa Tigdas ang ‘Pinas

Vaccination CardVaccination Card


     On April 4, the Department of Health launched its month-long, nationwide, door-to-door measles vaccination campaign dubbed “Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas” for about 18 million children aged nine months to below eight years. The main objective of the campaign is to reduce the number or pool of children who are at risk of getting or susceptible to measles and achieve at least 95% measles-rubella immunization.


PhilHealth Schemes and Things

(Photo from PhilHealth)(Photo from PhilHealth)


     One of the two health issues that made it to the second State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 25 is the enrolment to PhilHealth’s insurance program of 5.3 million poor families identified in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Housing Targeting Survey for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR). (The other health issue is immunization which the President uttered twice in passing.) PhilHealth enrolment and its consequent utilization of benefits by indigent families are considered the centerpiece of the Aquino Health Agenda’s Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (universal health care) within three years. That’s by June 2013 already, and time is ticking fast.


Plight of the ‘Nightingales’

Nurses from RNheals Batch INurses from RNheals Batch I


     In December 2010, Dr. Leah Paquiz, founding president of “Ang Nars” told ABS CBN “Bandila” that the government should look into the practice of hospitals that require registered nurses to pay for their training. She revealed, “Nag-o-onthe-job training (OJT) volunteerism, sila pa ang nagbabayad, tapos ‘yung  certificate, hindi naman po siya  qualified  maging employment certificate.” Paquiz also said more than 500,000 nurses in the country are either jobless or underemployed.

     The news report also showed interviews of partly-hidden nurses narrating their sad plight and showing proofs of payment they made as volunteer nurses in undisclosed hospitals.


Dengue Surge in Luzon

Spraying on mosquitoesSpraying on mosquitoes


     When dengue cases peaked in July and August in Luzon and a number of children died, one angle that some media people in news and commentary hyped was the inaction of government in what they saw as a crisis. For the Department of Health, this was uncalled for and very much unjustified.

     For more than a decade that dengue mosquitoes have been attacking the country, the DOH has already institutionalized its dengue prevention and control program in public health and hospital services as well as in health promotion. But as the already-a-cliché goes, “the government cannot do it alone.” In dengue prevention and control, communities and the whole society should do their big part.


Global Concern for Non-Communicable Disease

Sec. Enrique Ona at the UN High-Level Meeting in New YorkSec. Enrique Ona at the UN High-Level Meeting in New York


     In August, the news that Jukebox King April Boy Regino was suffering from prostate cancer shocked the local entertainment industry. By October, the news that he was “cured” by taking the food supplement was even more shocking to many outside showbiz. Anyway, the news died a natural death, so-to-speak.

     But the real shocking news happened on September 23 when it was announced that the non-showbiz husband of television actress, Camille Prats, succumbed to nasopharyngeal (throat) cancer.  Anthony Linsangan was only 32.


Smokefree Metro Manila

Smoke-free Metro ManilaSmoke-free Metro Manila


     Why did this health news rank so high in HEALTHbeat’s countdown? Well, this is one of the very few instances when tobacco control advocates took the offensive against the rich and mighty tobacco industry that for so long has considered the Philippines as their “Disneyland” because of the lax and lenient tobacco regulation laws and policies.

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