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COVID-19 Drops to Fifth Leading Cause of Death in Baguio City, shifts focus to Preventable Diseases and Overall Wellness

In a significant shift from 2021, when COVID-19 was the second leading cause of morbidity in the city, the virus fell three places in 2022, now ranking fifth among the top causes of death. This change was revealed by Dr. Donnabel Panes, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit at the Baguio City Health Services Office (CHSO). Vascular diseases now lead the list, followed by cancer, heart disease, and pneumonia.
The decline in COVID-19 cases is attributed to various factors, including the successful vaccination program implemented throughout the city. Dr. Panes stresses the importance of residents continuing to pursue vaccinations to maintain this progress and further reduce the impact of the virus on public health.

However, despite the reduction in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Panes notes that the rise in vascular diseases, cancer, and heart disease—conditions that are largely preventable—may be due to the pandemic’s impact on people’s lifestyles. The past two years have seen many individuals neglect their health, either consciously or unconsciously, as they navigated the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
The enforcement of lockdowns and social distancing measures led to a significant increase in the number of people staying at home, which, in turn, resulted in substantial changes to diet and exercise patterns. Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the surge in preventable diseases.
Moreover, the closure of doctors’ clinics and subsequent changes to clinic hours and systems made it difficult for people to maintain regular consultations. Some even avoided check-ups altogether, fearing potential exposure to the virus. This avoidance of medical care has further exacerbated the rise in preventable diseases, as early detection and intervention play a crucial role in managing such conditions.

Recognizing these health concerns, the CHSO is ramping up its programs to restore the overall health of the population, which was neglected during the pandemic. Dr. Panes emphasizes that the current goal is to “reclaim our health that we lost during the pandemic,” covering all aspects of health from head to toe.
To achieve this goal, the CHSO is focusing on various initiatives, including educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These campaigns cover topics such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and the value of preventive healthcare measures.
Additionally, the CHSO is working to improve access to healthcare services by increasing the availability of medical personnel and extending clinic hours in health centers. This will enable residents to schedule check-ups and consultations more conveniently, without the fear of crowded waiting rooms or potential virus exposure.

Dr. Panes also highlights the significance of mental health and well-being, urging residents to seek support and counseling if they are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns resulting from the pandemic.
In conclusion, Dr. Panes reiterates the City Health Services Office’s commitment to supporting residents in their health journeys, regardless of their starting point. By offering various services at their health centers, the CHSO aims to provide comprehensive care for all residents, ensuring that the community can overcome the lasting effects of the pandemic and build a healthier future.
As the city moves forward, the continued dedication of its residents to their own health, combined with the support of the CHSO, will be vital in addressing the rise of preventable diseases and reclaiming the overall well-being of the population.

Source: PIO Baguio

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