Heart disease and legislation

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    AS if news about rising COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila even as the national average is decreasing were not enough, comes this item about the Philippines having the worst record among Southeast Asian countries that reported heart disease as the top cause of death among their citizens.

    The statistics show that 120 out of every 100,000 Filipinos died of ischemic or coronary heart disease in 2019, up from 103 per population in 2015. The Philippines was followed by Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei in that order.

    Information coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that noncommunicable diseases now make up seven out of the 10 leading causes of death. The WHO report noted rising cases of heart disease, stroke; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; trachea, bronchus and lung cancers; Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia; diabetes; and kidney diseases.

    ‘Information coming from the World Health Organization confirmed that noncommunicable diseases now make up seven out of the 10 leading causes of death.’

    It is timely, then, for the WHO to warn governments all over the globe to drastically improve the delivery of primary healthcare services. In the Philippines, we are glad to note that the House of Representatives is doing its part, using legislation towards this lofty goal.

    It is welcome news that the House Committee on Health has approved a bill regulating food products with high trans fatty acid (TFA). The objective is to achieve preventive health care among Filipinos.

    The panel, chaired by Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, approved the measure consolidating four bills which intend to remove industrially-produced TFA from food products. Trans fat is produced when producers and processors turn liquid oils into solid fat, and it is found in many fried, processed and fast-food products.

    Congresswoman Tan, a physician, said this proposed measure is timely and urgent especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic during which patients with co-morbidities, such as coronary heart diseases, have a higher risk of serious illness or death.

    Tan said WHO’s push for eliminating TFA is “one of the simplest and most straightforward public health interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve the nutritional quality of diets.”

    The House health panel has done its job, and it is up to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and the plenary to support the move. The House committee also expects support from its counterpart in the Senate, led by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go.