NEW YORK 11 October 2018 – The discussions on public health took center stage at the high-level week of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on 28 September 2018, where Philippine Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III was a panelist at the Philippine-co-sponsored side event entitled “Alcohol, NCDS and Sustainable Development: Where do we stand and where do we go.”
Secretary Duque outlined the measures implemented by the Philippine government to address the burdens associated with the harmful use of alcohol to achieve the health-related sustainable development goals.
The Secretary said that the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines are non-communicable diseases or lifestyle-related diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and accidents.
Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and harmful alcohol use are known risk factors contributing to the development of lifestyle-related diseases. Of these, smoking and harmful alcohol use are the top two factors that lead to premature deaths. The Philippines has also seen an increasing trend of deaths and disabilities due to road accidents attributable to alcohol intoxication.
To address this, Secretary Duque highlighted the country’s three-tiered approach to address the harmful use of alcohol through legislation and regulation, service delivery, and financing. These include the recent restructuring of the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco and the imposition of business taxes on tobacco manufacturers ad distributors, penalizing persons driving under the influence of alcohol, prohibition of sale of alcoholic beverages to minors, and the employment of children in all advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages.
In intensifying delivery of service, Secretary Duque said that the government is conducting a countrywide healthy lifestyle promotion and advocacy program, promoting access to treatment and care for alcohol dependents, and establishing trauma centers for alcohol-related injuries and specialty centers in strategic locations for appropriate and prompt treatment of alcohol-induced life-threatening complications.
“We have gained headways, mindful that there are challenges ahead. We look forward to the adaption of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol through the whole of government and whole of society action as we envision healthier Filipinos,” Secretary Duque told the United Nations.