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Philippines – Health Issues

The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country consisting of more than 7,000 islands. With a population of over 109 million people, it faces several health challenges. In this article, we will discuss the most common health issues in the Philippines, as well as the country’s attitudes towards smoking and the legislation in place to control it.

Common Health Issues

Infectious Diseases

The Philippines faces a high burden of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and dengue fever. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of TB in the Philippines is 554 per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the Western Pacific Region. Malaria is also prevalent, particularly in rural areas, where access to healthcare is limited. In 2019, there were 69,812 reported cases of malaria in the country. Dengue fever is another significant health issue in the Philippines, with over 146,000 reported cases and 622 deaths in 2019.

Non-Communicable Diseases

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a growing concern in the Philippines, particularly due to the country’s changing lifestyle and dietary habits. According to the Department of Health (DOH), NCDs account for 67% of all deaths in the country. The most common NCDs in the Philippines are cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

Mental Health

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Mental health is a significant concern in the Philippines, with many people experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. In 2020, the DOH reported a significant increase in mental health consultations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippines also has a high suicide rate, with an average of seven Filipinos committing suicide every day.

Smoking in the Philippines

Smoking is prevalent in the Philippines, with around 20 million Filipinos estimated to smoke. According to the WHO, smoking prevalence among adults in the Philippines is 23.8%, with more men (47.7%) smoking than women (8.3%). In addition, 14.8% of Filipino youth aged 13-15 years old are current tobacco smokers.

Attitudes Towards Smoking

Filipinos generally have a positive attitude towards smoking, with many considering it a personal choice and a means of stress relief. However, the DOH has launched several anti-smoking campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and to encourage smokers to quit.


The Philippines has several laws in place to control smoking, including the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. This law regulates the sale, packaging, advertising, and promotion of tobacco products. It also mandates the placement of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging and prohibits smoking in public places, including schools, hospitals, and government buildings.

In 2019, the DOH proposed a new bill to raise the minimum age for smoking from 18 to 21 years old. The bill also aims to ban smoking in private vehicles if there are minors present and to increase taxes on tobacco products.

Despite these efforts, the implementation of anti-smoking laws in the Philippines remains a challenge. Many Filipinos continue to smoke in public places, and enforcement of the ban on smoking is inconsistent.

The Philippines faces several health issues, including a high burden of infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, and mental health disorders. Smoking is also prevalent in the country, with a significant number of Filipinos estimated to smoke. While there are laws in place to control smoking, implementation and enforcement remain a challenge. Addressing these health issues requires a comprehensive approach that includes awareness-raising, access to healthcare, and effective implementation of public health policies.

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