A month ago, President Duterte expressed a directive in the Cabinet to ensure that sweetened beverages should have health warning labels. Sugary drinks have also been imposed with higher taxes with the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to minimize consumption among Filipinos.
These policies have been implemented by the Duterte administration as part of our concerted efforts to fight one of the greatest health problems among Filipinos today: Diabetes. The disease is known to lead to heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and blindness.
According to data from the World Health Organization, the prevalence of diabetes has been rising quite rapidly in middle- and low-income countries, including the Philippines. True enough, there are now millions of our countrymen who are suffering from this dreaded disease. Complication arising from diabetes is also one of the leading causes of death among Filipinos.
That is why I believe President Duterte and many of our health experts are right when they advocate the imposition of additional taxes and the inclusion of warning labels in beverages with high sugar content. The government is also united with the Filipino people in the observance of the National Diabetes Awareness Week every fourth week of July to address the need to educate the public on this health challenge.
I am convinced we can win this battle against diabetes—with a combination of limiting sugar intake, proper diet and enough exercise, we will limit our risk of developing this dreaded disease. Various interventions and support groups are also in place to help us support those affected by diabetes and their families. Medicines to managing diabetes are also widely available.
The Office of the President, with the help of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), has already started establishing Malasakit Centers in various areas all over the country. This one-stop shop will have various government agencies assisting and helping Filipinos who do not have the means to pay for their bills and diabetes medications.
Despite the actions that have already been taken, we still have an enormous task at hand. As a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, member states of the United Nations, including the Philippines, have set a goal to reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases or NCD like diabetes by one-third.
While the Duterte administration is determined to achieve this target, cooperation from the civil society, medicine manufacturers, food producers and the general public is also needed for all our objectives to be met. We are certain that through sufficient public education, solidarity and government investment in interventions that are cost-effective and scientific, we are steps closer toward our public health goals.
Diabetes is not a death sentence. As your Kuya Bong Go, I encourage all Filipinos to inform themselves about it and make the necessary lifestyle and dietary preferences to reduce one’s risk to getting diabetes. I also urge both the public and private sector to work together to finally rid this country from this scourge of a disease.
Blast from the past: On 30 July 1907, the first Philippine Assembly elections were held across the country.
In the aftermath of the elections, the Nacionalista Party (NP) and its coalition partners won the majority of 59 seats in the election. The Progresista Party came in second with 16 seats, while the remaining five seats went to independents. Sergio Osmeña Sr., the head of the NP and the coalition allies, subsequently became Speaker who was then the most powerful Filipino in the American Insular Government.
The First Philippine Assembly is best remembered for reigniting efforts towards gaining independence and for passing the Gabaldon Act which improved basic education in the Philippines. The election of the NP as the majority party also showed that a majority of Filipinos favor independence from American rule.
The Philippine Assembly convened at the old Manila Grand Opera House in Sta. Cruz in the City of Manila.