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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Western Visayas aims smoke-free workplaces, maintains high alert against Q fever

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Iloilo City – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas are stepping up efforts toward promoting public health, targeting a smoke-free environment in public offices and maintaining vigilance against Q fever.

DTI-Western Visayas is committed to earning the prestigious Red Orchid Award from the Department of Health (DOH), which recognizes offices that maintain a 100 percent tobacco-free environment.

The award is part of the DOH’s program to honor institutions adhering to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) stringent standards in tobacco prevention and control.

DTI Western Visayas Director Rachel Nufable emphasized the importance of encouraging other government offices to adopt similar practices. “By working towards a tobacco-free environment, we hope to set a benchmark for other offices in various provinces,” she stated.

To achieve this, DTI has partnered with the Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST) and the Public Health Office-Smoke Free Aklan. These collaborations are crucial in implementing and enforcing smoke-free policies, as outlined in the Iloilo City Regulation Ordinance 2021-255.

Key measures include banning smoking in all DTI offices, providing cessation support for employees, running awareness campaigns about the dangers of tobacco use.

The Red Orchid Award is not just a symbol of excellence but a comprehensive program encouraging government offices to contribute to a healthier environment. Besides the coveted Red Orchid Award, the DOH also offers Pink and White Orchid awards for second and third-place finishers, respectively.

Meanwhile, in a parallel effort to safeguard public health, DA-Western Visayas has ramped up its preventive measures against Q fever, a potentially dangerous zoonotic disease, although no cases have been reported in the region yet.

To maintain this status, the agriculture regional office enhanced its animal border protocols, working closely with local government units (LGUs) and personnel from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to ensure that domestic ruminants are well-protected from the disease.

The key to preventing Q fever is vigilance and timely reporting of any unusual animal deaths, DA-Western Visayas advised. This proactive stance includes equipping the Regional Animal Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) to handle a range of diagnostic tests for diseases affecting livestock.

Regional data showed that Western Visayas is a significant player in the country’s goat industry, contributing nearly 10 percent or 376,312 of the national inventory and goat meat production. Maintaining the health of these animals is vital for the region’s economy and public health.

Recent concerns have heightened after an outbreak of Q fever was reported among goats imported from the United States, leading to a temporary importation ban on US goats by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr.

Q fever, caused by the Coxiella burnetii bacteria, can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals or their fluids. While Western Visayas remains free of this disease, the ongoing vigilance is essential to protect both animal and human populations.

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