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Indoor pollution a concern for DoH

by Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce

The Department of Health (DoH) is now worrying over the threat of indoor air pollution in the rural areas.

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial disclosed that health authorities are now also looking at the threat of indoor air pollution, especially in the rural areas.

“The use of the charcoal and wood for cooking is one of the concerns due to indoor air pollution,” said Ubial.

She noted that such cooking methods are still prevalent in the rural areas.

“I think in the rural areas they are still using coals and wood, particularly in the poor households,” said Ubial.

The DoH chief stressed that constant use and exposure to it pose adverse health threat.

“The poor will be more prone to illnesses. The poor frequently getting sick would make things worse,” she stated.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), household air pollution from dirty fuels and inefficient cookstove technologies were estimated to have caused around four million premature deaths in 2012.

It could cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, lung cancer deaths, and heart disease, among others.

With this, Ubial said, the health department is now looking at the possibility of providing poor households access to quality cook stoves.

She said they are already in discussion with the Department of Social Welfare and Development on the possibility of providing family-benefeciaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program with LPG or electric stoves.

“We are exploring that idea through CCT-families. Instead of providing them money, we can provide them the stove,” the health secretary disclosed, noting that such program is already being practiced in other countries.

“We want to break the cycle of poverty and ill-health,” Ubial said.

Meantime the DoH is set to allot 60 percent of their fund for public health services; eyeing to improve infrastructure and services, to decongest hospitals, and to build a vaccine production facility, among others.

This after the department got what Ubial termed as the “highest budget of the health department ever”.

“We were able to pass the highest budget of the health department ever at P164.4 billion. And this is nine percent higher than our current budget of around P154 billion. This represents, actually, nine percent of the total expenditures of national government,” said Ubial during the Manila Bulletin’s “MB Hot Seat.”

Using the 2018 budget, the DoH is set to introduce the polyclinic, believing that such will help decongest hospitals in the country.

“One of the things that we’re also going to introduce is the polyclinic that is a diagnostic facility. We don’t have that now. What we have are RHU or doctor’s clinic, and the hospital,” the DoH chief disclosed.

In Cuba, which is considered as one of the countries with the best health systems, there are polyclinics that prevent hospitals from getting crowded.