People's mental health a huge factor in economic development, says DOH chief

September 1, 2015 5:32 am 

CEBU CITY, Aug. 31 — The Department of Health stressed the vital role of mental health in driving economic development in the Asia Pacific region.

In her keynote message on Sunday during the opening the 5th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held in the city, Health Sec. Janette P. Loreto-Garin said measures to ensure mental health were now treated with utmost importance in the region.

"Mental and physical well-being are now equal partners. Many mental health illnesses can be prevented, allowing a culture of mental wellness to emerge and flourish," Garin said.

"I am very pleased that the Philippines is taking a leadership role this year in promoting mental well-being. APEC has a very robust and innovative agenda to promote mental health and reduce stigma," she added.

APEC's mental health meeting in Manila on Aug. 25 assessed the needs and priorities of economies and paved the way for the launch this year of a digital hub to promote innovative collaborations between government, academe, and the private sector to address those needs.

Garin also said APEC member economies had a job to do in engaging their finance and budget planners in their effort to mitigate the social and economic effects of ill health to society.

While economic planners regard health as cost, Garin said giving attention to mental and physical well-being should be considered as investment.

Failing to do so would mean astronomical costs for the government, corporations and the people.

She pointed out that as more people are forced to retire early because of poor health, they become less productive. This event greatly poses negative impacts to a country's economy.

"Social welfare budget will be severely strained and government initiatives to overcome poverty will be compromised", she added.

Aside from mental health, among the chronic illnesses that pose major challenges to APEC economies include musculoskeletal and cardio vascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

These diseases, she said, stripped the people of their enjoyment of life, their families and their working potential. (PNA)

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