Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral and other officials have expressed concern over the alarming upsurge of HIV/AIDS cases that rose to 835 cases in 2009, the highest within a single year since 1984. The Philippines now has 4,424 reported cases of HIV/AIDS.
Reacting to the increased occurrence of HIV/AIDS in the country, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the importance of preventing human exposure to toxic substances that are known to damage immunological functions and cause other serious health issues.
“A human body exposed to harmful chemicals will be more helpless against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).” said retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Harmful chemicals can have serious health effects, including damaging or killing cells, tissues and organs that protect the body from germs and other disease-causing invaders,” said De Veyra who also sits at the Philippine National AIDS Council and the Philippine Commission on Women.
Exposure to toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and mercury through inhalation, ingestion, dermal absorption and other pathways can lead to a weaker immune system and aggravate HIV/AIDS, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Cadmium, for instance, cuts the production of helper T cells leading to a weak immune system. While lead slows down enzyme activities, and mercury attacks and damages the brain and the nervous system.
“We therefore ask the government to consider chemical safety as an integral part of the country’s HIV/AIDS intervention program and push for measures that will safeguard public health and the environment against toxic substances,” De Veyra said.
The EcoWaste Coaltion is also concerned with human exposure to nasty chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinogens), birth defects (teratogens), developmental defects (developmental/reproductive toxicants), hormonal interferences (endocrine disrupters) and other serious health problems.
Citing information on chemical body burdens from the non-profit US-based Coming Clean Network, the EcoWaste Coalition said that toxic chemicals can be prevented by 1) eliminating the most dangerous persistent chemicals that bioaccumulate, 2) developing alternative production methods that use non-toxic materials, and 3) ensuring that the precautionary approach is applied when it comes to chemicals released into the air, water, and soil.
The EcoWaste Coalition through its Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing Against Toxic Chemical Threats) promotes human and ecological health by raising awareness and action against harmful chemicals in processes, products and wastes.
Website of the Coming Clean Network: http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org/