(Photo grabbed from Manila PIO Facebook page)

MANILA – The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) urged on Wednesday the government and other stakeholders to focus on improving the country's healthcare system.

This, after POPCOM presented its analysis on the recent report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) citing the causes of deaths in 2021.

The report said that as of May 21, 2022, registered deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) accounted for a total of 10,226, or 6.5 percent of the total registered deaths from January to April 2022 making it 146,137 Covid-associated mortalities since January 2020.

POPCOM Executive Director Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez noted, however, that there were 159,770 excess mortalities unrelated to Covid-19, but were rather caused by other diseases that claimed more lives along with the deadly viral infection in 2021.

These were attributed, he said, to ischemic heart disease (or heart attacks, up by 29.7 percent); cerebrovascular disease (or strokes, up by 15.3 percent); diabetes mellitus (up by 21 percent), and hypertensive disease (or hypertension, up by 31.5 percent) as among the top causes of deaths in the country.

Perez also noted that the increased number of deaths due to malnutrition was up by 47 percent while neoplasms or various forms of cancers were down by 10.3 percent.

"Pareho itong nagpapahiwatig na nagkaroon ng matinding krisis sa sistema ng kalusugan noong nakaraang taon at nararapat lamang na sa mga darating na taon ay susugan natin ng dagdag na resources ang ating sistemang pangkalusugan sa lokal at sa pambansang lebel (These both prove that there had been an intense crisis in our health system last year and it is only appropriate that in the coming years, we will focus on additional resources for our healthcare system in the local and national levels)," he said.

The PSA, Perez clarified, follows the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) on reporting Covid-19 mortalities which were endorsed by the Department of Health way back in 2020.

He said WHO counts as Covid-19 mortality those with confirmed laboratory tests showing the presence of Covid-19 infection and those clinically diagnosed by doctors as Covid-19 but without a confirmatory laboratory test.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed to push for the creation of a virology center, a disease control center, and specialty hospitals in the regions to help improve the country's healthcare system within his administration. (PNA)