Sec. Cabral Urged to Protect Pinoy Kids from Environmental Health Hazards

Quezon City. A coalition of public health and environmental groups today urged newly appointed Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral to strengthen government’s policies and initiatives that will safeguard Filipino children, including developing fetuses, from environmental health hazards.

The EcoWaste Coalition, in a press release, welcomed the appointment of Dr. Cabral, a cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist, as Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) and specifically requested her to strengthen the department’s environmental health agenda and program.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for enhanced action on environmental health as the nation celebrates the Feast of the Santo Niño on January 18, a special day dedicated for all children.

“We hope that Dr. Cabral will prioritize the promotion of a safe, healthy and clean environment to protect the fetus and the child from environmental hazards that can adversely affect their health and development. Let this be her legacy to the Filipino children,” said Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Environmental health, as explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviors.

Citing information from WHO, the EcoWaste Coalition said that more than three million children below five years old from around the world, including the Philippines, die yearly due to preventable environment-related diseases.

According to WHO, the increased production, use and movement of harmful chemicals, unsafe disposal of hazardous waste, growing air and water pollution, poor access to sanitation and hygiene, unexpected effects of some new technologies and the effects of climate change can cause significant negative health impacts.

As a group promoting the safety of consumers from chemical hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Sec. Cabral to bare her plans on how children can be protected from being exposed to harmful chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and other toxic metals, dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants, bisphenol A, phthalates and other chemicals of concern.

In particular, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that Sec. Cabral will use the powers of her office to educate policy makers and sway paint manufacturers into eliminating lead paints, a major environmental health hazard facing the Filipino children.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged Sec. Cabral to review and strengthen DOH Administrative Order 32, Series of 2007, or the “Regulations on the Issuance of a License to Operate to Companies that Manufacture, Import or Distribute Toys for the Philippine Market,” so that only safe and adequately labeled toys will be sold in the market.

This early, the EcoWaste Coalition has asked Sec. Cabral to take tough action that will effectively ban piccolo and other firecrackers that have been blamed for the rise of firecracker-related injuries during the New Year revelry.

Also, as a group that is addressing the threats posed by climate change, the EcoWaste Coalition called on Sec. Cabral to initiate a participatory process that will craft a comprehensive national mitigation program to combat the anticipated increase in diseases due to worsening air pollution, further degradation of ecosystems and more frequent natural disasters.