CEBU CITY) Health Secretary Janette Garin highlighted on Sunday the important part that mental health plays in driving economic development in the Asia Pacific region.
In her keynote message during the opening the 5th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy here in Cebu City, Garin said that mental health, like other chronic illnesses, is now being recognized 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.”
APEC’s mental health meeting in Manila on August 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, academia, and the private sector to address those needs, she added.
APEC member economies have a job to do, she said noting they must engage 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 she believes 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 and it impacts in 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, strip the people of their enjoyment of life, their families and their working potential. PND (as)