Action & Event-ure:
Everyday, almost 7,500 people around the world are infected with HIV and the number is still growing in an alarming rate, especially here in the Philippines. Writer Wango Gallaga urges everyone to vote for a candidate who supports MDG no. 6 which is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Wango Gallaga on MDG no. 6
There seems to be an underreporting of HIV and AIDS cases in the country; the DOH estimated the HIV and AIDS cases to be about 11,200 as of 2005. The social stigma of disclosing to the public one’s infection in a predominantly Catholic population may be one of the reasons for the underreporting. While the numbers had not caused much alarm in the past, what is worrisome is the increasing number of new reported HIV cases. In 2006, for instance, six Filipinos were reported infected with HIV every week. One in every three cases was an OFW, mostly seafarers and domestic workers who reportedly had unprotected sexual contact. Cases among OFWs are easily detected because they are mandated to undergo HIV-testing by their prospective employers.
Recent figures on HIV and AIDS cases suggest the infection has spread, not reversed. However, in spite of these new cases, the national target of keeping the prevalence rate at less than one percent of the population remains within target.
Sexual transmission continues to be the main cause of HIV infection. However, injection by drug users, which is the strongest driver of HIV infection in Asia, may raise cases of HIV and AIDS given the observed increase in the level of needle sharing among drug users. The high prevalence of risky behavior such as unprotected sex and having multiple sex-partners among high-risk groups, combined with the rise in needle sharing among drug users is a cause for concern. HIV and AIDS awareness level across population groups, especially, among the youth, leaves much room for improvement. Misconceptions on basic facts about the disease must be dispelled. Preventive measures, on the other hand, must be advocated.
Malaria is the eighth leading cause of morbidity in the Philippines. Based on program data, malaria morbidity rate indicated a decrease from 72 cases per 100,000 population in 1998 to 47 cases in 2002. However, there was an increase in the rate to 55 cases in 2005. The mortality rate due to malaria, likewise, decreased from 0.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 1998 to 0.1 death in 2002. This slightly went up to 0.17 deaths in 2005. The geographical distribution of malaria cases based on a five-year average (2001-2005) is as follows: Luzon (55%); Visayas (1%); and Mindanao (44%). In 2005, the top ten (10) provinces in terms of the number of malaria cases were: Palawan, Tawi-tawi, Sulo, Sarangani, Isabela, Cagayan, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Zambales.
Similarly, tuberculosis (TB) remains a major public health problem in the country, being the sixth leading cause of morbidity and the sixth leading cause of mortality in 2003. Data indicate that the mortality rate due to TB decreased from 38.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 1999 to 33 in 2003. In 2005, the case detection rate was posted at 71 percent while the cure rate was 82 percent.