Philippines: Pasig City- Thinking and Living Green
September 23rd, 2009
Pasig City - In celebration of the first year anniversary of mercury phase-out in all Philippine hospitals, Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia's fourth leg of blood pressure and temperature screening activity using mercury-free devices draws a big crowd in Pasig City.
"We go around the different cities in the country to showcase that mercury-free alternatives in health care are available.
We chose Pasig because we saw the city's goal for a green environment, as well as its many health care-related activities. We want to show them that greening the health care is a big step towards a healthy environment," said Faye Ferrer, HCWH-SEA Program Officer for Mercury.
In September 2008, the Department of Health (DoH) issued Administrative Order (AO) 21 mandating the gradual phase-out of all mercury-containing devices in all Philippine hospitals by 2010. To date, more than 50 hospitals are moving away from mercury devices.
"More than hospitals, we also want to get support from local government units and hope that LGU-initiated health care projects or medical missions will move towards the greener alternative," said Ferrer.
"Pasig City's health care projects include dental, tuberculosis, family planning, maternal and child health programs and senior citizen vaccination. We hope that in all these projects, Pasig will always veer away from using mercury devices," Ferrer added.
Pasig City Health Officer Dr. Georgiana Galutera is very supportive of the shift to mercury-free alternatives. "Pasig City has always been for projects that will benefit the people, their health and the environment. For many years, we have been coordinating efforts to keep our city clean and our community healthy. Mercury phase-out in hospitals and in LGU-supported health care projects will definitely contribute to the vision of thinking and living green in Pasig City," she added.
Ferrer added, "As the government officials here in Pasig always say, beyond progress, a healthy environment. With this we believe that Pasig means business when it comes to looking after the environment while progressing as a City. For what will progress mean if we are living in an unhealthy and toxic environment? What is progress if we have unhealthy people? What is progress if the place we are living in is dying?"
"In terms of health care, our question is, are we really providing proper health care if we are using mercury and other toxic substances that are harming the people and the environment? We challenged Pasig City to mean business in cleaning, greening and making healthier our health care," Ferrer added.
Mercury History in the Philippines
The first Southeast Asia Conference on Mercury sponsored by HCWH in Manila in 2006 brought the mercury issue to the attention of concerned stakeholders. It was during this conference that DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III pledged to have a national policy on mercury phase-out in Philippine hospitals.
In 2007, Philippine Heart Center, together with General Santos Doctor's Hospital (GSDH), Manila Adventist Hospital and San Juan De Dios Hospital, started a mercury phase-out program. In August 11, 2008, DoH signed AO 21.
Philippines is the 1st Southeast Asian country and the 1st developing country to have a policy on mercury phase-out in hospitals putting it in the same rank as U.S., European Union, Sweden, France, Denmark, Norway and Argentina, to mention just a few, who are all moving towards a mercury-free health care.
The mercury-free temperature and blood pressure devices used in the Mercury-Free Health Care by 2010 were provided by Digitron International Sales Inc.
Original article in the Health Care Without Harm News.