With lung illnesses remaining one of the top killer diseases in the country, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has opened a new healthcare service at the city-run Ospital ng Tondo devoted to treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Estrada said the hospital’s new pulmonary program is timely as COPD prevalence in the country remains significantly higher compared to the rest of the world, with one in five Filipinos afflicted with the life-threatening disease.
“COPD is fatal, especially if left undetected and untreated, so I opted to put up a specialized service at the Ospital ng Tondo to provide free and quality treatment to poor Manileños,” Estrada said.
COPD is a term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
After being briefly hospitalized in December 2016 for asthma attacks, Estrada has since stopped smoking. At 80, the mayor remains in the pink of health, constantly urging Manileños to stop smoking and start a healthier lifestyle.
Estrada tasked Dr. Isaias Cando Jr., director of Ospital ng Tondo (OsTon), to see to it that underprivileged Manileños receive the best treatment and medication concerning COPD.
“Thanks to Mayor Estrada, Oston now has specialized service sa pulmonary. We now have lung specialists to handle COPD cases,” Cando said.
The city government, he added, has also provided funds for the procurement of pneumococcal vaccine.
“We advise, whether young or old, to take a shot of this vaccine. This is single shot good for three or five years and we’re offering it for free,” Cando said.
Citing latest figures from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Cando said 14 percent of Metro Manila’s population suffer from this debilitating illness, which is on the “high side” considering that the COPD prevalence rate in other countries is only about 10 percent.
At OsTon, he said most of COPD-related cases they treat are “community-acquired” pneumonia, infecting elder citizens aged 50 to 90.
“COPD commonly affects senior citizens because of the age factor, their lowered immune system, and being exposed to unfriendly environment like congested community, and with people na meron na silang sakit but are not treated because they do not consult,” Cando explained.
On the average, OsTon admits three to four COPD patients weekly, he added.
Cando advised Manileños to pay extra attention to their health and regularly consult their doctors or visit the nearest community health center as simple cough and flu could deteriorate to pneumonia.
According to PCHRD, smoking is still the leading cause of pulmonary diseases. It said as many as 50 percent of Filipinos – minors and adults – smoke and this has made COPD the sixth or seventh cause of death in the country.
The opening of COPD treatment unit at Oston came in the heels of Estrada’s intensified campaign against public smoking. Last February, he ordered a citywide smoking ban and approved an ordinance that slaps higher fines and penalties to irresponsible smokers.
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