Awful factors hindering PH children’s growth

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz /

Filipino children have seen far worse childhood than their counterparts in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

A global report by child rights advocate Save the Children brought forth this disturbing news.

Severe malnutrition, lack of basic health care, and early pregnancy have been “robbing” Filipino children of their “happy” childhood, according to Save the Children country director Ned Olney.

This was cited in the report titled “Stolen Childhoods,” which was launched last Thursday, June 1, coinciding with the celebration of the International Children’s Day.

Olney explained that an index of events that impact children’s ability to have a safe and happy childhood was used to rank 172 countries “from best to worst places to grow up.”

The Philippines ranked 96th, which was worse than Vietnam (92nd), Thailand (84th), Malaysia (65th), and Singapore (33rd).

He cited that the eight indicators that “end” children’s childhood are child mortality under five years old, growth stunting, out-of-school children, child labor, early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, displacement by conflict, and child homicide.

“The Philippines’ ranking is a concern because when you look at some of the other countries that are ranked ahead of the Philippines, these are countries that are (used to be) a lot poorer. It is left behind by ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Thirty years ago these countries were far poorer than the Philippines but their rank improved in terms of childhood. They have improved much faster than the Philippines,” Olney pointed out.

“I was very surprised to see the Philippines behind Tajikistan, Bhutan, Turkmenistan and Moldova. These countries have very difficult environment for children and yet Philippines ranked below these countries,” he added.

The greatest concern for the Philippines is in three indices, which include the under-five mortality rate. “This is quite high for a middle income country,” he said.

He noted that child mortality is “very high” with more than 50 percent of newborn mortality happening in the first 28 days. “This is what is keeping the Philippines behind,” he added.

According to Olney, the most significant driver of the country’s “poor” ranking is the high levels of growth stunting and undernutrition, affecting about 30 percent of Filipino children across the country.

Based on its 2015 data, the rate of malnutrition went up by about 10 percent, bringing the latest data to 33 percent. “That is the largest increase in childhood stunting in the last quarter century. Something is going wrong,” he said.

About 50 percent or one out of two children is stunted in the Philippines, he pointed out. “That is worse than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is 30 percent,” he added.

“Disappointing statistics from the Philippines underscore the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, when they are most susceptible to stunting and most in need of good nutrition. This is an area that must be dramatically improved if the Philippines is to move up the rankings , and most importantly, (to) ensure every child across the country can benefit from a safe and happy childhood,” Olney said.

Children who are stunted in the first two years are also more likely to repeat grades, drop out of school and delay school entry.

“Severe malnutrition is increasing,” Olney said adding that cases of malnutrition are more prevalent in urban Metro Manila, which is ironic because there is available food almost everywhere “and yet children are dying everyday” due to malnutrition.

Save the Children’s “Cost of Hunger: Philippines” study in 2016 put the cost of undernutrition or stunting to the Philippine economy at P320 billion annually–equivalent to almost 3 percent of the country’s GDP.

The second largest driver of the poor ranking is adolescent pregnancy. “What is the direction of the Philippines as regards adolescent birth rate? Ten years ago, the rate was lower. More adolescent girls are giving birth than 10 years ago,” he said.

Likewise, about 11 percent of Filipinos’ five to 14 years old are already working and almost 10 percent of adolescents aged 15 to 19 are married.

These indicators have put the Philippines in a poor standing.

“It all comes down to poverty. The drivers go really high when you are poor and goes really low when you are wealthy,” he said.

Handwashing: Cool water as effective as hot for removing germs

Study indicates that washing for 10 seconds eliminates harmful bacteria


We all know that washing our hands can keep us from spreading germs and getting sick. But a new Rutgers-New Brunswick study found that cool water removes the same amount of harmful bacteria as hot.

"People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn't matter," said Donald Schaffner, distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science.

In the Rutgers study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Food Protection, high levels of a harmless bacteria were put on the hands of 21 participants multiple times over a six-month period before they were asked to wash their hands in 60-degree, 79-degree or 100-degree water temperatures using 0.5 ml, 1 ml or 2 ml volumes of soap.

"This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water," said Schaffner. "Also we learned even washing for 10 seconds significantly removed bacteria from the hands."

While the study indicates that there is no difference between the amount of soap used, more work needs to be done to understand exactly how much and what type of soap is needed to remove harmful microbes from hands, said co-author Jim Arbogast, vice president of Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements for GOJO. "This is important because the biggest public health need is to increase handwashing or hand sanitizing by foodservice workers and the public before eating, preparing food and after using the restroom," Arbogast said.

These findings are significant, particularly to the restaurant and food industry, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues guidelines, every four years, to states. Those guidelines currently recommend that plumbing systems at food establishments and restaurants deliver water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for handwashing.

Schaffner said the issue of water temperature has been debated for a number of years without enough science to back-up any recommendation to change the policy guidelines or provide proof that water temperature makes a difference in hand hygiene. Many states, in fact, interpret the FDA guidelines as a requirement that water temperature for handwashing must be 100 degrees, he said.

The FDA is scheduled to hold a conference in 2018 to discuss the existing code and any modifications that should be made and Schaffner would like to see the water temperature policy revised at that time.

"I think this study indicates that there should be a policy change," said Schaffner. "Instead of having a temperature requirement, the policy should only say that comfortable or warm water needs to be delivered. We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rutgers University

I've learned that it's okay to be alone, even when I'm uncomfortable

Lauren Rearick/

This year I find myself spending an unexpected amount of time with someone new, a person I never fully knew until I was forced to be in a room with them – myself. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to embrace these moments of solitude and to be okay with being alone.

Whether spending time with the ones we love or crammed into cubicles with the ones we work with, we’re always surrounded by people. Even our smartphones prevent true isolation, with friends on social media remaining just a touch away. But what happens when you leave behind the office for a life of working at home, or your friends begin moving away to pursue their own new beginnings? As adults, we don’t always have the comforts of parents or roommates greeting us when we return home, and our days aren’t promised to be filled with the friendships that school afforded us as children.

Sometimes we’re forced to be alone, but that isolation doesn’t mean we have to shut down, hide away, or be afraid to do the things we enjoy.

It took me a while to learn that lesson. Following a series of serious life changes, I’m getting better at being alone, even when that solitude proves uncomfortable. 

After years of working for others, I made the transition to self-employment. For the first time in my life, I don’t have an office to report to. Instead, I work from home as a freelance writer, where I spend my days with my dog and my laptop. Initially, this change proved freeing, and I loved it,but then the loneliness began to creep in. There was no one with whom I could dissect last night’s television or explore new spots for lunch. Instead, I was absolutely alone and had no idea how to cope.

I wanted to work from coffee shops, explore unknown places in my hometown, and enjoy the freedom of setting my own hours. Unfortunately, the first time I tried to branch out and beat the loneliness, I felt completely terrified. I tried to set up a workspace at the local coffee shop, but the initial visit made me feel like I was back in a high school cafeteria. I felt like everyone was staring at me, wondering why I was alone and what I was doing. That fear proved even more menacing when I tried to find solace in my favorite places like Target and Dunkin’ Donuts. Everywhere felt off-limits to me.

Maybe it was my generalized anxiety disorder or the perpetual looming dread of what others thought, but I started to actively avoid going places alone.

Instead, I made excuses to work from home, or I would breeze through my trips into the outside world. On more than one occasion, I cried on my way home.

Though I was desperate to change my situation, loneliness continued to linger, and I felt incapable of altering my days. I wanted to be strong and independent, to enjoy my time with myself, by myself. I thought back to when I was younger and reveled in being by myself. I once prided myself on being single and claimed Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Woman” as my anthem.


I had forgotten how to be alone, and I was too scared to relearn. 

There wasn’t an a-ha moment, or a sudden inspiration that made me want to change. Instead, I grew tired of being afraid. I wanted to treat myself, to discover new things and to reward myself for being me – even on the days when I was anxious. Instead of shutting myself off and staying in, I realized I needed to afford myself the same kindness and love I so often show others.

At first, I started with short trips. Instead of claiming a coffee-house as my own for a full day, I went for just an hour. Rather than packing in a day of shopping, I went to one store and stayed as long as I wanted. If I only stayed a few minutes, that was okay. I took any trip as a victory.

As I looked around, I realized that I wasn’t the only person alone — and that, more than likely, no one was really paying attention to me.

Phil Payne Photography/Getty Images

There were, and still are, moments when I am fearful, and I wonder if people are staring at me, asking themselves why the curly-haired brunette is sitting all alone reading a magazine. When I start to feel uncomfortable, I take a deep breath and stay just a second longer. I try to take the pressure off myself, and let my heart and thoughts control the trip, deciding on a whim where I’ll go for the day, or what I’ll see. It’s in these difficult moments that I’ve learned more about myself than I ever did when surrounded by others. I discovered new places that have a killer iced coffee, purchased a makeup palette that has shades beyond my comfort zone, and found a quiet nook of the library where, even among others, I can be alone.


No one plans to be alone. I certainly didn’t. There are some days when I’m still lonely and I cry, but with each day that passes, I’m learning I can do things by myself. I may not always enjoy shopping for a purse alone, and some days I prefer to write from the comforts of my bedroom, not the bustle of a coffee shop. But when I do venture outside to see the world, I know that I can do it on my own.




Life-saving device for all hotels pushed

The executive members of the Friends of the Filipino/American Community (FFAC), a not for profit political action committee (PAC) of the greater Northern California met with Philippine Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. and his staff at the San Francisco office on May 11 to discuss and advocate for Hotels in the Philippines to have in their establishment a life saving device known as a "Defibrillator". Defibrillation is a treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, specifically ventricular fibrillation (VF) and non-perfusing ventricular tachycardia (VT). A defibrillator delivers a dose of electric current (often called a countershock) to the heart. In attendance for FFAC was former Union Vice Mayor Jim Navarro, Atty. Ben Reyes, Atty. Cesar Fumar, Evelyn Centeno and Rose Pavone.

Each year, many Filipinos die from sudden cardiac arrest during their stay at the Philippine hotels because the device was not available during the cardiac event that could otherwise have saved their lives.

The key to survival is timely initiation of a "chain of survival", including CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Because of recent technological advances, a portable lifesaving device, called an "automated external defibrillator" or "AED" has recently become an important medical tool. Trained non-medical personnel can use these simplified electronic machines to treat a person in cardiac arrest. The AED device guides the user through the process by audible or visual prompts without requiring any discretion or judgment.

FFAC will work closely with the Consulate General Office (CGO), the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Health (DOH) to bring this very important issue to the forefront and advocate to become a law that having an AED will be a standard of operation (SOP) in all the hotel industries in the Philippines.

Dutch doctor fathered at least 19 kids through sperm bank

A now-deceased Dutch doctor in charge of a sperm bank is likely to have fathered at least 19 children through IVF treatment, a comparison of their DNA revealed on Tuesday.

The Dutch institute known as FIOM which is charged with investigating the case said it compared DNA made available by a legitimate child of doctor Jan Karbaat who died last month, with 19 people born from IVF treatment.

"The DNA from the legitimate child matches that of 19 half-brothers and half-sisters," the FIOM said in a statement.

Tests however should continue in order to ensure a 100 percent match between the legitimate child and Karbaat's DNA, the FIOM's director Ellen Giepmans told AFP.

Karbaat's case hit the headlines earlier this month after a group of Dutch 23 people born from IVF treatment petitioned a court to seek DNA tests on the former head of the sperm bank to see if he was their father.

The children and their parents claim that Karbaat, who died aged 89, may have used his own sperm instead of that of the chosen donor at the fertility clinic he ran close to the port city of Rotterdam.

Karbaat reportedly admitted to having fathered about 60 children in his time at the clinic, which closed in 2009 amid reports of irregularities.

The lawyer for the 23 highlighted some inconsistencies such as one of his clients having brown eyes when the sperm donor was supposedly blue-eyed, or that another male client physically resembled the doctor.

The Karbaat family's lawyer in turn firmly denied the accusations and urged the court to respect the family's right to privacy.

Court officials on May 2 at the request of the families seized some personal objects such as a toothbrush from Karbaat's home but DNA tests have not been done.

The court is expected to hand down a ruling on the tests on June 2. — Agence France-Presse

Chocolate tied to decreased risk of irregular heart rhythm

By Andrew M. Seaman | Reuters

Eating a small amount of chocolate every week or so may decrease the risk of a common and serious type of irregular heart rhythm, according to a new study of people in Denmark.

People who ate chocolate one to three times per month were about 10 percent less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation than those who ate the sweet treat less than once a month, researchers found.

“As part of a healthy diet, moderate intake of chocolate is a healthy snack choice,” said lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The study cannot say for certain that it was the chocolate that prevented atrial fibrillation, however.

Mostofsky and colleagues write in the journal Heart that eating cocoa and cocoa-containing foods may help heart health because they have a high volume of flavanols, which are compounds that are believed to have anti-inflammatory, blood vessel-relaxing and anti-oxidant properties.

Past studies have that found eating chocolate – especially dark chocolate, which has more flavanols – is tied to better measures of heart health and decreased risk for certain conditions like heart attacks and heart failure, they add.

There isn’t as much research on whether chocolate is also linked to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the upper chamber of the heart beats irregularly.

At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. have atrial fibrillation, which increases their risk for blood clots and resulting strokes, heart failure and other complications, according to the American Heart Association.

For the new analysis, the researchers used data collected for a long-term study of 55,502 people in Denmark. The men and women were between 50 and 64 years old when it began, and they provided information about their diets when they entered the study between 1993 and 1997.

The researchers then linked that diet data to Denmark’s national health registries to see who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Overall, about 3,346 cases of atrial fibrillation occurred over an average of 13.5 years.

Based on their diets at the beginning of the study period, people who ate one serving, about 1 ounce (28.35 grams), of chocolate per week were 17 percent less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation by the end of the study than people who reported eating chocolate less than once a month.

Similarly, those who ate 2 to 6 ounces per week were 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation while those who ate more than an ounce of chocolate a day were 16 percent less likely to have the condition.

Among women, the biggest risk reduction was tied to eating one serving of chocolate per week. For men, the biggest reduction came with eating two to six servings per week.

“I think our message here is that moderate chocolate intake as part of a healthy diet is an option,” Mostofsky told Reuters Health.

The researchers caution that they can’t account for unmeasured factors, such as kidney disease and sleep apnea, that may influence the risk of atrial fibrillation. They also didn’t have data on the type of chocolate or the amount of flavanols participants ate. Their diets may have also changed over the nearly 14 years of data collection.

The data also suggests the participants who ate the most chocolate consumed more calories but had a lower body mass index – a measure of weight in relation to height – than people who ate the least chocolate, noted Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston.

“It’s very likely – if I had to bet – that these people were more physically active,” said Lichtenstein, who was not involved in the new study.

She said people likely can’t get around the fact that they need to have a healthy diet, be physically active and not smoke to optimize their health.

“There is no quick fix,” she told Reuters Health.

Drs. Sean Pokorney and Jonathan Piccini write in an accompanying editorial that the study’s findings are interesting and warrant further consideration despite their limitations.

“A double-blind randomized controlled trial is needed to evaluate the true efficacy of chocolate for the prevention of (atrial fibrillation) and such a trial would need to incorporate quantified doses of cocoa,” write Pokorney and Piccini, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Subscribe to this RSS feed


Sign up to keep in touch!

Be the first to hear about special offers and exclusive deals from TechNews and our partners.

Check out our Privacy Policy & Terms of use
You can unsubscribe from email list at any time