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Smoke, not nicotine, causes deaths – health expert

June 8, 2021

Inhalation of smoke, not nicotine, is the culprit that causes smoking related deaths and diseases according to a Canadian health expert. “The nicotine itself is not the problem. The global health catastrophe we face is due to the way it’s delivered. In short, for anyone wishing to tackle the global toll of 20,000 lives a day lost due to cigarette smoking, we need to remember just four words: ‘it’s the smoke, stupid’,” Prof. David T. Sweanor, chair of the advisory board of the Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics at the University of Ottawa said. He stressed that contrary to popular belief, nicotine is not the substance that causes these deaths. “There have been many decades of research on the health effects of cigarette smoking, and we have known since at least the 1970s that the primary cause of the cancers, heart and lung disease is the repeated inhalation of smoke,” he said.  The professor made the distinction to differentiate the risk profile of non-combustible alternatives (NCAs) like vapes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and oral products like Sweden’s snus which deliver nicotine without burning tobacco. He said by eliminating combustion or the burning process, these innovative products provide smokers less harmful alternatives to smoking. Sweanor said the human body is simply not designed to inhale smoke. It is the tar from combustion, and not nicotine, that contains carcinogens and toxicants. “We see similar disease patterns in those who cook food over open fires with poor ventilation and in firefighters exposed long-term to smoke inhalation,” he said. He likened nicotine to caffeine, saying it is a psychoactive substance that is addictive and gives assorted benefits to many users. He, however, noted that “by themselves, neither have significant health risks when used at normal dosage levels. But if obtained through a toxic delivery system such as smoking, great injury can be caused.” Sweanor said that making NCAs available to countries such as the Philippines will help millions of smokers reduce their exposure to smoke and illnesses. Mounting evidence from scientific studies around the world confirm that NCAs are significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes.  According to Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, e-cigarettes are at least 95-percent less harmful to humans than combustible tobacco. A February 2019 clinical trial by UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found that e-cigarette was twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments such as patches and gum at helping smokers quit. NCAs offer a similar ritual and pleasure as cigarettes with less exposure to the dangerous toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. “We now can get rid of cigarette smoking much as many countries have got rid of various infectious diseases and transitioned consumers away from a broad range of other overly hazardous products.  We can use science, technology and reason to draft regulations that can end cigarette smoking, and thus address the 20,000 daily deaths globally that are caused by that smoking.  We can make public health history no less significant than the eradication of smallpox,” Sweanor said. Citing Japan’s experience, Sweanor said the it reduced cigarettes sales by more than 30% in just over three years following the introduction of HTPs. “Product substitution works and appears to work better than any other strat egy we have used to date in reducing cigarette smoking. We have also seen this impact in Sweden, Norway, Iceland and other countries as well, and with a variety of low-risk non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes,” he said. He noted, however, that many governments can’t keep up with the advances in science and technology.  “They often fail to understand the absolutely enormous differences in risk between different nicotine products and inadvertently protect the cigarette business by seeing low-risk alternatives as a threat rather than an opportunity,” he said. “The combined offering in terms of consumer needs and wants, and the information, availability and pricing of the low-risk alternatives should ensure that the safer choice is an easy choice,” he said. “Viable alternatives to cigarettes can reduce cigarette consumption dramatically. We can seize the opportunity technology now makes available to end the cigarette epidemic,” Sweanor said. 

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Constantino "Tinnex" Jaraula on his first dose of SINOVAC

April 29, 2021

Despite my ambivalence towards vaccination, and complex perception on it's effects, I just had my first dose of SINOVAC this morning, with the positive endorsement of my PHC Cardiologist Dra. Normita Manapat and NMMC's Dr. BeeJay Rocha. I decided for it not because I want to be called a "hero" as now being "advertised" but just doing my duty as a citizen strongly mandated by PRRD. It is disastrous if one is infected with COVID-19 but it is worse if he infects others through his negligence!! (Tinnex Jaraula)

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In the COVID-19 vaccine race, we either win together or lose together

February 12, 2021

Joint statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus NEW YORK/GENEVA, 10 February 2021 – “Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for 60% of global GDP. “As of today, almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose. “This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery. “Today, UNICEF and WHO – partners for more than 70 years – call on leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can actually end the pandemic and limit variants. “Health workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in lower- and middle-income settings and should be protected first so they can protect us. “COVAX participating countries are preparing to receive and use vaccines. Health workers have been trained, cold chain systems primed. What’s missing is the equitable supply of vaccines.  “To ensure that vaccine rollouts begin in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021, it is imperative that:  · Governments that have vaccinated their own health workers and populations at highest risk of severe disease share vaccines through COVAX so other countries can do the same. · The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and its vaccines pillar COVAX, is fully funded so that financing and technical support is available to lower- and middle-income countries for deploying and administering vaccines. If fully funded, the ACT Accelerator could return up to US$ 166 for every dollar invested. · Vaccine manufacturers allocate the limited vaccine supply equitably; share safety, efficacy and manufacturing data as a priority with WHO for regulatory and policy review; step up and maximize production; and transfer technology to other manufacturers who can help scale the global supply. “We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity. “COVID-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together.”

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foodpanda expands shops service in Mindanao with Fit Mart

January 24, 2021

foodpanda Philippines receives a huge boost to its grocery delivery service in Mindanao as it partners with Fit Mart, one of the biggest grocery chains in the southern part of the country.   With foodpanda shops, grocery items are conveniently categorized, orderly presented, and are just a few taps away from being delivered in the comfort and convenience of your home. The Fit Mart and foodpanda partnership serve as a major addition to the broad offerings of the on-demand food and goods delivery service. Now, foodpanda will be able to meet the grocery delivery needs of even more online shoppers.   “foodpanda is delighted that Fit Mart is now in foodpanda shops,” says Ezra Espina, foodpanda Mindanao Cluster Head. “The partnership strengthens the shared mission of foodpanda, the country’s on-demand food delivery service, and Fit Mart, one of the biggest grocery chains in the region, to deliver everyone’s needs with quality service and offerings.”   Fit Mart was introduced in 1980 as a simple shoe store, named after the everyday lingo “Fit” was coined for every customer who deserved satisfaction. Since then, the business has grown to become a General Santos staple in grocery shopping, carrying a wide variety of everyday essentials and other items.               The partnership between foodpanda and Fit Mart reflects the commitment of foodpanda to having food and more delivered right in the safety and comfort of your doorsteps at home and workplaces. The tie-up also makes Fit Mart Gensan the first supermarket branch to be launched in foodpanda shops in Mindanao, with its many offerings now available on the user-friendly platform.             “We are hoping that this partnership will serve more people in General Santos City who rely on accessibility in terms of getting their essential needs,” says Retchie Santiago, FitMart Gensan Operations Manager.               As foodpanda continues to grow and develop its offerings, say goodbye to the inconvenience of physical shopping, and welcome the many rewarding experiences of grocery delivery with just a few taps and clicks.   To shop at Fit Mart through foodpanda, and to enjoy all the unmatched food and grocery delivery deals and promos of the on-demand food delivery service, download and order through the foodpanda app now at www.foodpanda.ph. Follow foodpanda’s official social media pages on Facebook at facebook.com/foodpandaphilippines and Instagram at instagram.com/foodpanda_ph.

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foodpanda delivers kutitap and cheer in Bicol and Bulacan

December 14, 2020

With the support of volunteer riders, foodpanda was able to send much-needed assistance to the two major communities that they serve Following the recent series of typhoons that affected thousands of families, foodpanda didn’t cease to deliver kutitap and cheer to people in need of help and hope. The country’s on-demand food delivery service and its compassionate riders readily extended a helping hand to the victims of the recent typhoons in Bicol and Bulacan. foodpanda has put up donation drives and mobilized the repacking, delivery, and distribution of relief goods through the help of its riders as volunteers and be a Lit Pandas.     “It has been a regular event for the Naga riders to conduct charity drives/events and help the community in times of need,” said Luis Ferrer, foodpanda Naga City Manager.  While Bicolanos embody the local “oragon” spirit that is dauntless and strong, the recent string of calamities kept on disrupting the people’s path to recovery, leaving them with little chance to bounce back. Dedicated to help them in the process is foodpanda,  as its latest outreach program exemplified the company’s commitment in making a difference in every opportunity, especially the ones that concern people’s lives and welfare. Through proper coordination with local government units, foodpanda identified and focused on two citizen groups in Bicol that needed the most help. In Legazpi City, the program specifically targeted 150 street sweepers and garbage collectors who also serve as frontliners during the pandemic. Meanwhile, in Naga City, there were 150 residents in Barangay Triangulo that were found to have limited access to relief packages. foodpanda organized twin events on November 15 to cater to both groups. One was in the morning, which was dedicated to the street sweepers and garbage collectors in Albay, who were provided with grocery packages that included rice, canned goods, noodles, water, toiletries, as well as packed lunches. In the afternoon, the same relief package was distributed to the residents of Barangay Triangulo in Naga City. Aside from the beneficiaries, foodpanda surprised its 40 rider-volunteers who participated in the events with grocery packages and packed lunches as well. “We at foodpanda are thankful that despite their difficulties, they are still willing to extend their help to our fellow Bicolanos,” Ferrer said. According to Joie Elfren Moratin, foodpanda Legazpi City Manager, the initiative was more than an outreach program. The goal is to make a difference in whatever opportunity that may arise.  “It was a heart-warming experience,” he said. “This is something I will definitely go back to over and over again. Our goal is to improve the lives of the community where we do business because this is a place we call home.” Meanwhile, one of the many areas in central Luzon that were severely hit by the typhoons was Bulacan. A province that’s home to many  talented and fierce heroes, foodpanda has also rolled out an outreach program to help 200 residents of two areas in the province. Through the help of rider-volunteers in Bulacan, foodpanda distributed relief packages to 100 residents of San Jose Del Monte on the morning of November 21. Later that afternoon, another 100 people from Barangay Atlag in Malolos received the same assistance from foodpanda. Barangay Atlag is a small and remote town in Malolos that became inaccessible due to severe flooding. However, foodpanda was able to reach the area and its residents shortly after Typhoon Ulysses left the country. “It’s been an honor to be part of this activity since we really wanted to do our part in the community,” said Lee Enriquez, foodpanda Bulacan City Manager. “Helping our people in San Jose Del Monte and Malolos, with the help from the LGUs, was really special for all the Ka-Pandas here in Bulacan.”

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Cagayan de Oro, Region X has highest power rates in Mindanao | Average Power Rate in CDO up 71.6% since 2016

November 24, 2020

It is ironic that despite demand for electricity heading south, power rates are Region X is heading north. A recent update on the power situation in Mindanao has revealed that Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao now has the highest power rates in the whole island. According to a presentation made recently by the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC) to the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperative (AMRECO) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) on 17 September 2020, Region X has the most expensive average power rates among private distribution utilities (DUs), and the most expensive average rate among electric cooperatives among the island’s six regions. The MPMC data revealed that the Cagayan Electric Power Co. Inc. (Cepalco) has the most expensive power rate among Mindanao’s private DUs at P10.8528 per kilowatt hour as of March 2020. In contrast, the Cotabato Power and Light Co. has the lowest at P7.1717 (-33.9%) and Iligan Power and Light Co. which has the next highest rate at P9.3375 is still 14% cheaper compared to Cepalco. Cepalco power rates from 2016 to March 2020 also registered the highest increase at P4.5289 per kilowatt hour or 71.6% over the period. Meantime, none of the three other private DUs in Mindanao registered a double digit rate increase for the period: ILPI has the next highest rate increase for the same period at 7.4% followed by CLPC with 1.5%, and DLPC, which has an even bigger franchise area than Cepalco, even managing to reduce its average rate by -3.3% from P7.4420 in 2016 to only P7.1961 by March 2020. Largely because of Cepalco’s tremendous power rate increase, the average power rate among Mindanao’s four private DUs increased by P1.2577 or 17% to P8.6395 despite the single digit increments of CLPC and ILPI and DLPCs -3.3% rate reduction. An industry insider who prefers to remain anonymous said the tremendous increase in electricity rates in Cagayan de Oro is a result of Cepalco sourcing up to 98 percent of its electricity from its sister company Minergy Coal in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. Thus, the rise in power rates within the Cepalco franchise area could be attributed primarily to the rise in generation rates as a result of the shift to the Minergy Coal plant and not to the transmission and generation aspects of the franchise operations. Region X power coop rates most expensive Similarly, it was revealed that Region X also has the most expensive average rate for its electric coops at P10.9915 per kilowatt hour as of March 2020. In comparison, the BARMM has the lowest rate at P7.61 (-31%), Region XI P8.9743 (-18.4%), Region XII P9.04 (-17.8%), and Caraga P9.53(-13.3%). In addition, the P10.9915 average rate of all power coops was also 16%  more expensive that the P9.2180 average rate for all coops in all regions in Mindanao, and 18.8% more expensive than the P8.9287 average rate for all DUs in Mindanao. Mindanao Power Situation When queried about the rising power rates in Northern Mindanao, particularly in the Cepalco franchise area, Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, Deputy Executive Director and Head of Investments Promotion of the Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA) International Relations and Public Affairs Office said power rates in Mindanao is dependent on the contracting portfolio of ECs and DUs. “With most ECs and DUs in Mindanao now heavily contracted to more expensive technology to meet its long term demand, then the cost of electricity moved along the same upward direction” Montenegro stressed. “As Chair of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), MinDA had reached out to various partners and stakeholders to convey the present Mindanao power situation and proposed measures to DOE, House Committee on Mindanao Affairs, AMRECO, NGCP, consumer advocate groups, renewable energy advocates, and other key players,” he added. Also ongoing is a study supported by USAID on the impact of COVID-19 to the Mindanao power sector particularly the electric cooperatives that is set to be presented by December. Not the least, Montenegro disclosed these other MPMC initiatives aimed at improving the power situation in Mindanao: 1. Request ERC to consider postponing plan to reduce system loss threshold to 5% from current 6% to deal with the current system loss problem; 2. Requesting NGCP to prioritize certain long overdue Mindanao transmission upgrading; 3. Urging ECs and DUs to implement measures to improve collection efficiency;, 4. Requesting power generating companies to waive Minimum Energy Offtake (MEOT) or set on negotiated settlement; 5. Requesting NEA to propose/implement innovative financing window for severely affected ECs; 6. Urging the House Mindanao Affairs Committee to secure increased allocation from DBM to support Mindanao rural electrification targets; and 7. Studying the proposed establishment of a Local Power Development Advisory mechanism for better coordination between the ECs, LGUs and key local stakeholders in addressing power related problems, which include, among others, right of way issues, line tripping due to vegetation and refusal of landowners to cooperate, and non-payment of electric bills.

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