Wake Up, Philippines!

High blood pressure leads to kidney damage

Posted in Diseases/Disabilities, Health, Health Care by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Joy Angelica Subido Updated April 14, 2009 12:00 AM

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Celebrating World Kidney Day: Novartis Philippines corporate affairs and market access director Christine Liwanag; hypertension specialist and resource speaker Dr. Rody Sy; National Kidney & Transplant Institute executive director Dr. Enrique Ona; Department of Health assistant secretary Dr. Elmer Punzalan; UP-PGH Department of Medicine chair Dr. Agnes Mejia; and Novartis Philippines president and CEO Eric van Oppens
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MANILA, Philippines – Control your blood pressure and save your kidneys. This was the message of health experts during the recent celebration of World Kidney Day. With more people succumbing to kidney failure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) worldwide, knowing that high blood pressure destroys the kidneys is important. Concomitantly, an increased vigilance to keep blood pressure within normal parameters will result in lessening the incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke or debilitating kidney damage. In turn, this will lead to better health and longer, more productive lives.

“In the Philippines, renal disease is the number 10 cause of death today,” says Dr. Enrique Ona, executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. He estimates that 100 to 120 individuals per population of one million develop end-stage renal failure. “This is the most expensive disease that one can encounter,” he continues.

The kidney is a non-regenerating organ, therefore making damage permanent. Since the disease is chronic, dialysis is expensive and a compatible kidney donor may be difficult to find, the resources that an average patient can spend for maintenance will likely run out. Without proper treatment, the toxins will accumulate in the body and eventually poison the patient.

Are your kidneys at risk? Apart from hypertension and cardiovascular disease, another factor that can significantly affect the kidneys is diabetes mellitus and poor blood sugar level control. Smoking, being overweight, and a family history of kidney disease can tip the scales against you. Although age (over 50 years) also predisposes one to the disease, even the young can succumb to CKD.

Nephrologist Dr. Agnes Mejia, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital, cited the case of a 22-year-old engineering student. Complaining of poor appetite, headache, weakness, pruritus (itching), weight loss, shortness of breath, and easy fatigability, he was admitted to the hospital for evaluation and was found to have end-stage kidney disease. A medical history showed that he suffered from bouts of urinary tract infection (UTI) in previous years. He should have taken heed.

“As a rule, men should not have UTI,” says Dr. Mejia. The frequency of the urinary tract infections should have alerted health providers about the possibility of a more serious underlying condition. His blood pressure was also elevated and when admitted to the hospital, the young man had a distinctive ammonia-like or fishy breath odor, a symptom associated with chronic kidney or renal failure. As is the case with most patients with severe renal failure, the story ended unhappily. The patient passed away during what should have been the prime of his life.

What are the symptoms to watch out for?

Dr. Mejia says one should be wary when urine is cloudy or bubbly — “beer urine with bubbles on top.” Nocturia or frequent urination at night and swelling of the legs (edema) without pain should also serve as warning signs. To be even more certain, blood pressure should be monitored so that it does not exceed 130/80 mm Hg. In addition, blood creatinine levels should be checked. Since creatinine or the breakdown product of creatine phosphate in muscle is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, increased levels will signal that the kidney is not working effectively. The link between high blood pressure and CKD is unmistakable so that nephrologists worldwide seek to heighten awareness to make blood pressure measurement and examination of urine routine.

“High blood pressure is a global problem and the situation is projected to get worse. The world population is getting older and aging is the common risk factor for the development of high blood pressure and diabetes as well as CKD,” reiterates a fact sheet from the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations.

Although more innovative and effective medications to control blood pressure and its attendant complications are being introduced to the market, it is best to avoid illness with healthy lifestyle choices.

Consider these facts and act accordingly: Weight loss of eight to 10 pounds can have a dramatic impact on blood pressure. Reducing alcohol consumption leads to decreased blood pressure. Lowering blood cholesterol prevents narrowing of blood vessels, which is another cause of blood pressure rise. Other key preventive measures are control of glucose (in diabetics) and anemia, smoking cessation, and increased activity.

Disease wreaks havoc on the individual’s body, possibly causing extreme pain and discomfort. The costs of treatment for CKD can financially burden a family. The consequences of increased prevalence burden healthcare systems and society. Undoubtedly, the best way to beat and prevent disease is to learn about it and act accordingly.

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Pseudo reproductive health

Posted in Abortion, Contraception, Family Planning, Reproductive Health by Erineus on April 20, 2009

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison Updated April 20, 2009 12:00 AM

The backers of the RH bill have again strutted out statistics from a policy research organization based in New York, U.S.A. The report allegedly covers a study on women’s contraceptive needs in the Philippines showing that 4,600 mothers and 52,000 babies died in the country last year from unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. Of the pregnancy related deaths, 2,600 were attributed to complications due to abortion. Guttemacher Institute which made the study claims these mothers and babies died because of lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health.

The Guttemacher statistics may be accurate but its claim as to the cause of these deaths is wrong. In the U.S.A. where Guttemacher is based, a proportionately much bigger number of mothers and babies die due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. Yet this is the very country where women even at their tender age are sexually well educated and afforded reproductive health rights and choices in methods of controlling births.

As the report says, mothers and babies die due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes. U.S. statistics again show that ever since Americans started using all sorts of artificial contraceptives, unwanted pregnancies have tremendously increased. Obviously American women have developed a contraceptive mentality that often results in unwanted pregnancies since most of these contraceptives are not fail safe. And because of these unwanted pregnancies, women resort to abortion which America openly allows and supports. Hence more mothers and babies die there precisely because women are afforded alleged reproductive health rights and choices in the use of contraceptives.

Deaths due to unwanted pregnancies and birth related causes will not be prevented or minimized by the passage of the Reproductive Health and Population Management and Development Act (RH Bill). On the contrary, the death rate due to said causes will increase even more by the passage of said bill because it grants women a wide ranging choice of family planning methods that include these abortion causing or ineffectual artificial contraceptives. If the RH Bill is passed, there will be more unwanted pregnancies and hence more cases of abortion. This is not a mere hypothesis. This is happening in America, the home of Guttemacher Institute and most of the Pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing and selling those artificial contraceptives that cause abortion and other serious illnesses. So why should we believe this Guttemacher report?

There may be lack of access to information on reproductive health and family planning especially among impoverished women. But the RH Bill does not actually provide them with such information. The truth is that the Bill will even subsidize the purchase of these harmful artificial contraceptives without requiring the dissemination of the necessary warning to women that they may cause abortion and other serious illnesses or that they can not really prevent pregnancies.

Of course women are entitled to reproductive health rights. But like other rights, it should be exercised without injuring or affecting the very life of others as in abortion. They have rights to safeguard the health of their own bodies but these rights do not allow them to destroy the lives of innocent and helpless infants in their wombs by resorting to abortion after the unexpected pregnancies caused by the failure of contraceptives. Indeed the U.S. Supreme Court already accepted and recognized that whether contraceptives are abortifacients or not, the decision to use contraception is “in some critical respects” of the same character as abortion.

Under the RH Bill, artificial contraceptives are made available on demand at the expense of the government and for the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing them. But it has already been medically proven that these contraceptives are the causes of many diseases and infirmities rather than reproductive health. Dr. Carl Djerassi who developed the pill in 1960 himself found its “adverse effect on virtually every organ system of the human body, interfering as it does with the normal functioning of the woman’s vitally important reproductive system. Making these contraceptives available to our women would thus result in the eventual deaths of more mothers and babies or in more babies with congenital malformations and defects. The situation in America, the land of Guttemacher Institute and the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing these contraceptives will confirm this.

Thus the solution to this alarming growth in the deaths of mothers and babies is to junk the RH Bill. Instead another bill should be passed wherein the billions of pesos allocated for these contraceptives should be devoted to the improvement of the medical care services to poor, pregnant women and to the health care of babies. This is the real, honest to goodness reproductive health care that our country needs, not the reproductive health contemplated by the RH Bill where only the multinational pharmaceutical companies manufacturing and selling artificial contraceptives profit most at the expense of Filipino taxpayers.

Filipinos should not be deluded into believing this kind of deceptive propaganda being waged by foreign funded groups connected with an international population control movement aggressively pushing for artificial contraceptive methods that precisely cause abortion and expose Filipino women and babies to other serious health problems. To be sure, with Obama’s recent executive order allowing the use of American taxpayers’ money to support the promotion of this fake “reproductive health” in other countries like the Philippines, these groups will become more aggressive as they are now provided with more logistics.

Thus the clear picture in the public’s mind at this stage is that this RH Bill promoting harmful and dangerous contraceptives could be approved only if our legislators succumb to the pressure of these internationally backed groups and their filthy lucre.

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After the release

Posted in Crime, Editorial, Kidnapping, Mindanao by Erineus on April 20, 2009
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In the jungles of Sulu, hostages who are mysteriously found abandoned by their captors are widely suspected to have regained their freedom through the payment of ransom. In the case of the mostly European hostages taken from the Malaysian island resort of Sipadan, the Abu Sayyaf band led by Ghalib “Robot” Andang reportedly earned a whopping $30 million, with the bulk of the amount contributed by the Libyan government. That lucrative caper, suspected to have been brokered by certain government officials who were in cahoots with the bandits, led to more kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf.

The bandits’ main group later ventured all the way to Palawan to seize hostages from a resort. In that incident, several Filipinos also mysteriously walked free as the Abu Sayyaf dragged the remaining captives deeper into Basilan. Those who regained their freedom denied paying ransom. Left behind were several Filipinos and three Americans, one of whom was decapitated.

Today, the Abu Sayyaf leadership has been decimated, but what’s left of the group is still engaged in kidnapping. Earlier this year the band operating in Sulu seized three volunteers of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Filipina hostage was the first to be freed. The other day it was the turn of the Swiss hostage to walk free. The official version is that he managed to slip away from his captors as government forces were pursuing the bandits. The talk circulating in Mindanao is that the Abu Sayyaf had abandoned Andreas Notter after ransom was paid. Denials were issued yesterday by different offices starting with Malacañang. The fate of Italian hostage Eugenio Vagni is unknown, despite government forces supposedly coming within just 500 meters of the bandits before Notter walked free.

Paying ransom to secure the safe release of a hostage is fine if the payment also leads to the capture of the kidnappers and recovery of the ransom. Allowing bandits to enjoy the proceeds of their caper guarantees more kidnappings. In the Zamboanga peninsula and Basilan, groups apart from the Abu Sayyaf have entered the game, snatching teachers and other civilians and demanding ransom. It’s not enough to secure the release of hostages. Their captors must be found and neutralized, and any ransom paid must be recovered. Anyone who benefits from a ransom payment must be punished.


National Government debt swells to P4.221 trillion in 2008

Posted in Sovereign Debts by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Iris C. Gonzales Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The National Government’s debt swelled to P4.221 trillion in 2008 from the P3.712 trillion incurred in 2007, the Bureau of the Treasury reported yesterday.

The 2008 debt stock ballooned by P508.4 billion or 13.7 percent more than the previous year’s level, data showed.

Of the P4.221 trillion, the government owed P2.414 trillion to domestic creditors and P1.806 trillion to foreign lenders, data also showed.

The government’s domestic loans in 2008 rose by P213.2 billion compared to the P2.201 billion incurred in 2007 or an increase of 9.7 percent.

Similarly, the government’s foreign loans jumped to P1.806 trillion or P295 billion more than the P1.511 trillion recorded in 2007.

At P4.221 trillion, theoretically, each of the 90.4 million Filipinos is indebted by P46,692.50.

Compared to the government’s debt stock level as of end-November 2008 of P4.236 trillion, the National Government’s debt as of end-December 2008 is lower by 0.4 percent or P15 billion, data from the Treasury also showed.

“The decrease in the National Government’s foreign debt of P25 billion or 1.4 percent from the level as of end-November 2008 was due to the P5 billion net repayment and P52 billion appreciation of the peso against the US dollar,” the Treasury said.

On the other hand, the Treasury attributed the increase in domestic debt of P10 billion or 0.4 percent from the recorded end-November 2008 level to more issuances of Treasury bills and bonds.

The government relies heavily on foreign and domestic loans to pay maturing debts and finance its budgetary needs.

Through the years, fiscal authorities have been stepping up efforts to fix the country’s fiscal position.

In 2008, the National Government incurred a budget deficit of P68.1 billion which was below the P75 billion ceiling for the year but higher than the P12.4 billion deficit incurred in 2007, latest data from the Finance department showed.

For this year, the government hopes to contain the deficit at P177.2 billion, higher than the previous program of P102 billion.

Government economic managers revised the deficit ceiling for 2009 given the impact of the global financial turmoil on the Philippines.
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Government spends P570B for debt service

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Iris C. Gonzales Updated November 26, 2008 12:00 AM

The government spent P570.369 billion for debt service payments from January to October this year, up 1.4 percent from the P562.312 billion spent in the same period last year, latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed.

Finance officials attributed the increase to higher interest payments brought about by the general uptick in interest rates across the globe amid the uncertain economic environment.

During the 10-month period, the government spent P252.293 billion for interest payments, 4.55 percent more than the P241.313 billion spent in the same period last year.

In addition, the government spent P318.076 billion for principal payments from January to October, a little less than the P320.999 billion spent in the same period last year.

Interest payments on domestic loans rose to P155.316 billion from January to October, up 14.52 percent compared to the P135.621 billion recorded in the same period last year.

On the other hand, interest payments on foreign loans declined to P96.977 billion from January to October. This was 8.24 percent lower than the P105.692 billion recorded in the same period last year, data from the BTr also showed.

For principal payments on domestic loans, the government spent P247.613 billion from January to October or P18.303 billion lower than the P265.916 billion recorded in the same period last year. This was a reduction of 6.88 percent.

On the other hand, the government spent P70.463 billion for principal payments on foreign loans or P15.38 billion more than the P55.083 billion spent in the same period last year. This is an increase of 27.9 percent.

The government has programmed to spend P607.215 billion for debt payments this year, officials earlier said. The government expects to save on interest payments due to the appreciation of the peso against the dollar.

Estimates by the Department of Finance showed that the Philippines saves as much as P4.2 billion in debt service requirement for every P1 appreciation against the dollar.

The government has been reducing its debt service payments to have more funds for the more necessary expenditures such as infrastructure and social services spending.

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National Government incurs P68.1-billion deficit in 2008

Posted in Budget, dof by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Iris C. Gonzales Updated February 26, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The National Government (NG) incurred a budget deficit of P68.1 billion in 2008, well below the target of P75 billion, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said yesterday.

At the Philippine economic briefing yesterday, Teves said the 2008 deficit represents 0.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or the country’s total economic output.

“This was an over-performance of P6.9 billion compared with our programmed deficit of P75 billion or one percent of GDP for the year,” he said.

Revenue collections reached P1.202 trillion or P22.3 billion below the program for the year while expenditures reached P1.271 trillion or P29.1 billion below the program.

Of the P1.202 trillion in revenues, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected P778.6 billion or P31.4 billion below the revised collection goal of P810 billion while the Bureau of Customs (BOC) generated P260.2 billion for the year or P13.8 below its revised revenue target of P274.1 billion.

The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) collected P63.7 billion while revenues from other offices amounted to P100.4 billion.

In December alone, the National Government incurred a deficit of P1.4 billion as revenues reached P121.3 billion while expenditures reached P122.8 billion. The December budget gap was narrower than the P4.3 billion deficit posted in November 2008.

During the month, the BIR collected P57 billion while the BOC collected P18.8 billion. The BTr generated P6.3 billion in December while revenues from other offices amounted to P39.2 billion during the period.

Teves expressed hopes that the two government agencies would be able to raise enough revenues for the year to be able to cope with the global financial crisis.

He is asking Congress to support pending legislative measures that would enhance tax revenues.

These include the measure to rationalize tax incentives and the so-called simplified net income tax scheme (SNITS) measure. Another measure is the proposal seeking to raise cigarettes on alcohol and cigarettes.

“The unprecedented challenges confronting us this year require extraordinary strength. We have to be tough to overcome these serious threats to fiscal and economic stability,” Teves said.
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RP allots P681.5 B for debt service next year

Posted in Debt Service, dof, Sovereign Debts by Erineus on April 20, 2009

By Iris C. Gonzales Updated September 03, 2008 12:00 AM

The government has programmed to spend P681.516 billion for debt service payments in 2009, 7.1 percent higher than this year’s allotment of P636.075 billion, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported yesterday.

Of the amount, the government plans to spend P482.138 billion for domestic debts and P200.378 billion for foreign loans.

The P482.138-billion debt service allocation for domestic obligations covers payments for principal amortization, amounting to P290.031 billion and interest payments, amounting to P191.107 billion.

On the other hand, the P200.378-billion debt service allocation for foreign loans covers payments for principal amortization amounting to P88.835 billion and interest payments of P111.543 billion.

Next year’s debt service allocation is P45.441 billion higher than this year’s payments amounting to P636.075 billion.

This amount comprises of payments for domestic obligations (P448.357 billion) and payments for foreign loans (P187.718 billion), data further showed.

The P448.357-billion debt service allocation for domestic obligations covers principal amortization amounting to P264.667 billion and interest payments of P81.305 billion.

On the other hand, the P187.718-billion debt service allocation for foreign loans covers principal amortization (P81.305 billion) and interest payments (P106.413 billion).

The government has been trying to reduce its debt service payments to have more funds for the more necessary expenditures such as infrastructure and social services spending.

However, fiscal authorities have decided to postpone the government’s fiscal consolidation program due to the difficult global economic tide this year. As such, the government expects to incur a deficit of P75 billion this year as it has already postponed its balanced budget goal to 2010.

For 2009, the government is looking at incurring a deficit of P40 billion. The government is seeking a budget of the P1.415 trillion for 2009, which is premised on revenues of P1.393 trillion.
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