In its 2019 Global Health Estimates, the World Health Organization declared that heart disease stays the leading causes of death the world over—and the Philippines has the highest number of cases in the entire Southeast Asia.
Last year, 120 out of 100,000 Filipinos died of ischemic (coronary) heart disease, a jump from 2015, where 103 per 100,000 were afflicted. This is the worst record among Southeast Asian nations naming the disease as their chief cause of death.
In comparison, Malaysia had 115 per 100,000, Singapore had 91.2, Thailand had 73.7 and Brunei had 68.1.
In light of this, the WHO urged governments to provide better primary healthcare services, after their data revealed that out of the top 10 causes of death, seven are non-communicable diseases (NCD).
Twenty years ago, only four of ten leading causes of death were NCDs, but this year, a considerable 74% of deaths worldwide consisted of NCDs. WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the new estimates indicated a need for their prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The health body also noted a spike in lower respiratory infections in the country, from 69.9 per 100,000 in 2015, to 86.8 in 2019. In the same period, three top causes of death declined: tuberculosis (from 28.3 to 25), neonatal conditions (from 26 to 21.9) and interpersonal violence (from 15.3 to 13.7).
Today, the country is introducing the Universal Health Care (UHC) program, which endeavors to give Filipinos access to a “comprehensive set of quality and cost-effective, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services without causing financial hardship.” Health secretary Francisco Duque III said that the pandemic did not arrest, instead hastened, the program’s progress.