Top 10 Causes of Death in the Philippines in 2009

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Throughout the year, the government, through the Department of Health, has actively promoted the practice of living a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos. Of the top ten causes of death in the country, nine are diseases that could have been prevented with a healthy lifestyle.

Heart Diseases

The term “heart diseases” collectively refers to diseases of the heart and the blood vessels surrounding it. There are more than 50 different types of heart diseases but the most common is coronary artery disease. Congenital heart diseases, on the other hand, are inborn or can be developed as a child grows older. The risk of developing heart diseases can be lowered by controlling the blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol levels, avoiding smoking, and getting enough exercise.

Vascular Systems Diseases

The most common of vascular system diseases is stroke, which occurs when the brain lacks blood flow or suffers internal bleeding. Blood vessels inside the brain are damaged due to fat deposits or blood clots and brain functions are impaired. Normally, the preventive measures done to avoid having heart diseases can be applied in lowering the risk of having a stroke. In addition to those, it is recommended that Filipinos follow a low-fat diet and avoid excessive intake of alcohol.


Leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the Philippines are lung cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the cervix, liver cancer, colon and rectum cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, 'cancer of the oral cavity, cancer of the ovaries, and leukemia. Six out of the Top 10 Most Prominent Deaths of 2009 are cancer-related deaths.

Road Accidents

Defensive driving is a major lesson taught to students in driving schools around the country. Nevertheless, the majority of Filipino drivers have been taught to drive in an informal setting. Defensive driving, which entails taking safety precautions and practicing accident prevention while driving, is often ignored. It is not a surprise, therefore, that road accidents have become the fourth leading cause of death in the country today.


Pneumonia collectively refers to over 50 respiratory diseases that affect the function of the lung’s alveoli. The most common form is viral pneumonia which develops after a patient has contracted an upper respiratory disease. Pneumonia is a highly treatable disease but it can be deadly when left untreated. This is what commonly happens in the barrios when impoverished patients fail to seek medical help and instead rely solely on common herbal medications.


The Philippines ranks 9th among the 22 countries in the world that are still battling tuberculosis (TB) today. This means that around 250,000 Filipinos become infected with the disease and 75 patients die of TB every year. It is already an improvement as the country ranked 7th in the past years, yet the statistics are still alarming. In fact, the country still ranks 8th among the countries with incidences of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.

Dengue Fever

As of 9 May 2009, a total of 62 deaths have been caused by dengue nationwide. Bacolod City appeared to be the most affected area in the whole country, with eight deaths as of September. This prompted the city council to pass a resolution declaring the city in calamity due to dengue fever.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is characterized by damaged air sacs in the lungs making it hard for the patient to breath. On the other hand, the lungs’ cells and linings become red and swollen when affected with chronic bronchitis. These two diseases are all smoking-related and can mainly be prevented by avoiding smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus affects around 3 million Filipinos but only half of this population actually know about it. Diabetes is a manageable disease but it still is the 9th cause of death in the country since most diabetics discover it too late. Early identification is the key to preventing deaths linked to the condition. A good exercise program and a balanced diet limits the risk of death caused by diabetes.

Perinatal Conditions

According to the Department of Health, the Philippines is among the 42 countries that contribute to 90 percent of all deaths of children under five years of age worldwide. Fifty percent of the infant deaths occur during the first two days of life and is caused by birth asphyxia, complications due to prematurity, or severe infection. Birth asphyxia happens when a baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen before, during, or after birth.




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