Category Archives: Community

Toxic wastes take toll on ‘healthy years of life’ of people in India, Indonesia and the Philippines

More than 8 million people in India, Indonesia and the Philippines live under constant exposure to toxic wastes, a study found.

Focusing on the impact to health of 373 toxic wastes sites researchers found that the economic opportunities lost because of premature deaths or disabilities incurred by the people due to the hazardous wastes is comparable, if not higher, to those caused by well-known diseases and other environmental risk factors.

By calculating the disability-adjusted life years (DALY), a measure of overall disease burden used by the World Health Organization (WHO), researchers were able to determine healthy years of life lost due to illness, disability or premature death. One DALY is equivalent to one year of healthy life loss by a person, which represents opportunities in life destroyed forever due to failing health or death.

The study revealed that toxic wastes sites are responsible to 828,722 DALYs or 828,722 years of life full health lost due the effects of toxic wastes exposures.

Furthermore, children or women of childbearing age constituted for 60% of the affected population. With many toxic chemicals affecting brain development in children and unborn babies, researchers insisted that children and women of childbearing age are considered to be most vulnerable. Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, pollutants found to be of high concentration in the sites tested, are known to affect brain development in children and unborn babies. Other chemicals have debilitating effects on kidneys and livers, while several others, such as chromium and asbestos, cause cancer.

Result of the study emphasized the need for a concrete step to control the ill effects of pollution to human health, researchers said. Environmental remediation of toxic waste sites was recommended in order to remove the pollutants and rehabilitate the environment. While completely eliminating exposure to toxic wastes may be impossible, remediation of would help minimize amount of toxic chemicals on these site and reduce exposure.

Toxic wastes sites around the world are not only detrimental to the environment, but also to health. While global concern is growing, assessments on how these sites affect the health of communities around them is still limited or lacking in many developing countries. The study provided a rich resource for policymakers on how to manage toxic wastes sites and help affected communities.

 

Reference:Chatham-Stephens K, Caravanos J, Ericson B, Sunga-Amparo J, Susilorini B, Sharma P, Landrigan PJ, Fuller R. (2013). Burden of disease from toxic waste sites in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines in 2010. Environmental Health Perspectives. 121(7):791-6.
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Filipino poor are more at risk of hepa B, study says

If two Filipinos are to be tested for hepatitis B, the one who is getting less annual salary is more likely to be tested positive than his richer counterpart, according to a study.

People usually measure the gap between the rich and poor in terms of what they can readily observe. One drives a car while the other commutes. One buys a house while the other rents. One dines at fine dining; the other boils instant noodles for dinner.

But a collaborations of researchers from various academic and medical institutions explained that evidence of gap between the two social classes may not be as obvious as the examples above, such as in the prevalence of hepatitis B.

A seroprevalence study of 2,150 randomly selected participants nationwide showed that poor Filipinos are disproportionately infected by hepatitis B as compared to others who have bigger annual income.

Describing annual income as the only predictor of the likelihood to testing positive in hepatitis B test, the researchers explained that the phenomenon reflects inequity in the access of healthcare.

Researchers discussed that health care services such as preventive vaccination are often neglected by or inaccessible for people at the lower socioeconomic levels. Poor Filipinos are more likely to miss or delay the hepatitis B vaccination (HBV), giving a window of opportunity of contracting the hepatitis B infection.

In a country where people living below the poverty line hovers around 27%, researchers insisted on the importance of government-subsidized actions that focuses on prevention of the disease.

Treatment and management of a patient with liver cirrhosis due to hepa B infection can range from US$185-1,321 in Asian countries like the Philippines. The cost can skyrocket to US$49,000-66,000 if the patient needs a liver transplant. Researchers lamented that the staggering cost of treatment, management and liver transplant usually falls in the shoulder of the patient with very little government assistance.

Arguing with the old adage that “prevention is always better than cure,” researchers insisted that focusing on preventive measures such as immunization programs would be more cost-effective to implement than coverage for treatment on full blown liver diseases.

Citing the success of immunization programs in decreasing the prevalence of hepatitis B infection in Northeast China and South Korea, researchers expressed their support to the Philippines’ Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), which include universal infant vaccination with HBV.

Reference:

Wong, S., Ong, J., Labio, M., Cabahug, O., Daez, M., Valdellon, E., Sollano, J., & Arguillas, M. (20013). Hepatitis B infection among adults in the Philippines: a national seroprevalence study. World Journal of Hepatology, 5(4), 214–219.