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PIA Press Release

Envi-health group aims for mercury-free Cagayan Valley

Tuguegarao City (15 February) -- The Department of Health (DOH) - Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) has gained allies in 63 health units out of the 83 hospitals and 96 Rural Health Units (RHUs) in Cagayan Valley in its effort to implement Administrative Order 21 which mandates local government units (LGUs) to implement mercury phase-out in health care.

The 63 facilities include seven government hospitals, 23 private hospitals, 29 RHUs, 3 district hospitals and 1 rural sanitation office from all over Cagayan Valley region. Local reporters from Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya provinces likewise expressed full support to the Covenant.

De Vera Hospital in Santiago City, Isabela who started mercury phase-out in 2007, prior to AO 21 is now into total mercury sphygmomanometer phase-out.

Another hospital is the St. Paul Hospital Tuguegarao who is one of the Do No Harm Award recipients. The hospital presented not just mercury phase-out but proper waste management and boasted of their bio-kita (bio-earnings) from recycled wastes.

"While the Department of Health (DoH) Administrative Order 21 mandates the gradual phase-out of mercury in all Philippine health care facilities and institutions, we are alarmed that Rural Health Units (RHUs) are so behind in its implementation," said Faye Ferrer, HCWH-SEA Program Officer for Mercury in Health Care.

In the 2nd regional conference on mercury phase-out and proper health care waste management in Tuguegarao City, majority of the 96 RHUs reported that they were unaware of AO 21. DoH Cagayan Valley likewise admitted that when it comes to information dissemination, priorities have been given to government and private hospitals.

Since the devolution of health services in the early 1990s, the government devolved the management and delivery of health services from the national DoH to locally elected provincial, city and municipal governments. This means that planning, management, decision-making and even revenue raising and resource allocation for the RHUs are now managed by the LGUs.

"Planning and funding for mercury phase-out is now on the shoulders of the LGU. However, information dissemination would still have to be supported by the DoH," said Ferrer.

The HCWH-SEA has also forged Covenant with health officials and workers and now has more than 700 signatures from Regions 1 and 2 and online signatories. (PIA 2) [top]

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