The formation of a National Commission for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases was proposed in order to promote a healthy lifestyle for the people and recommend new policies.
The National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (NAST PHL), an advisory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), made the proposal, which was announced by Academician Antonio Miguel L. Dans, University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine professor and member of NAST’s health sciences division, during the presentation of NAST’s 37th Annual Scientific Meeting resolutions on July 9.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), or lifestyle-related diseases, are the No.1 cause of death in the world today. Among these are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease and diabetes.
“NCDs threaten progress, and their rapid rise is likely to impede our efforts on inclusive growth, particularly poverty alleviation. They have a huge social and economic impact, which affects the poor more often than the rich,“ said Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo in a statement read by Science Undersecretary Dr. Amelia P. Guevara.
The proposed commission will analyze current laws, policies and programs which may negatively impact the health of the public; create a research agenda for the development and continuous assessment of strategies, which will promote a healthy lifestyle; and recommend new policies if necessary.
These will include policies on price reduction of healthy foods; provision of healthy foods in food establishments; food labeling; and those involving the provision of adequate open spaces to encourage greater physical activity and infrastructure for nonmotorized transportation.
“This battle will be fought in three fronts—the school, workplace and the community,” Dans stated earlier in his talk on the burden of NCDs.
For schools, he suggested the allocation of more hours for physical-education classes; and for workplaces, he proposed the provision of gym facilities and stand desks, as well as daily exercises and sports competitions, among employees and workers.
Meanwhile, for the community, the NAST academician said that more parks, sidewalks and bike lanes are better than fun runs.
Occasional fun-run activities are good, he explained, but once the fun run is finished, that leaves no other opportunity for people to jog or run for the rest of the year.
The commission will also address policies on increased “sin” taxes for tobacco, prohibition of smoking in public places, tobacco ad bans, pollution and environmental protection.
“Public education and awareness campaigns should still be pursued aggressively, utilizing both traditional and new forms of media, such as social media. Complementary to these efforts are other S&T and policy interventions,” Montejo said in his statement.
“Solutions that bear upon this epidemic must involve how communities are built, how businesses are run and regulated, and how laws are crafted and implemented,” said the NAST resolution read by Dans.
The 37th Annual Scientific Meeting of NAST, the Philippines’s highest advisory body on science, is a ramp-up event for the DOST’s 2015 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) from July 24 to 28 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
NSTW will feature the DOST’s health initiatives and technologies, among others. Admission is free.