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8 Wellness trends for 2019

No country will have a bigger impact on the future global wellness economy than China, suddenly an economic, political and tech powerhouse. To grasp this impact, you have to expand your brain’s notions of scale.

Photo by Alex Bertha from Unsplash.com

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The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) released the top wellness trends for 2019 (and beyond) — the so-called provocative new directions that will have the most meaningful, and not fleeting, impact on the $4.2 trillion global wellness industry.

1. Well Fashion – Way Beyond Athleisure

It’s striking how little attention has been paid to the intersection between “wellness” and “fashion” beyond the familiar story of athleisure disrupting the market. And how few people that are wellness/eco-minded (who have a mini-stroke if served a plastic straw) have really grappled with their overconsumption of clothes and the insanely destructive environmental impact that has. Or pondered the negative ways that fashion impacts their wellbeing or imagined the positive ways that it could. It’s impossible to overstate the disastrous effect that the “take-make-dispose” fashion industry has on the environment and humans: workers paid 50 cents an hour, three in five garments bought getting chucked within a year, and an industry spewing 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. If nothing changes, fashion will eat up over 25 percent of the world’s entire carbon budget by 2050! Every touch-point in the cycle—how clothes/shoes are designed, made, acquired, cared for, experienced and disposed of—has been broken. But 2019 will be the pivotal year for change, with a huge wave of sustainable, ethical, intelligent, healing, more inclusive, and meaningful fashion on the rise. A more “well” fashion market and mindset is ahead.

We’ll see radical innovation in sustainable textiles, with clothing/shoes made from recycled plastic bottles, algae, mushrooms and food waste. More vegan, cruelty-free fashion, with alt-fur, alt-leather, alt-everything collections that are trendier than the real thing. New AI and 3D design technologies mean the future is an on-demand, custom-created-for-you wardrobe (vs. spray-and-pray, generic overproduction). If manufacturing is a mean, faceless business, more ethical fashion brands will provide transparency into how they treat—and even celebrate by name—the artisans that created your wardrobe. Buy-and-trash culture is giving way to a recycle and re-wear revolution: from brands rewarding you for bringing in all those dead dresses to a surge in online luxury used fashion platforms and those that let you rent your entire wardrobe to a vintage renaissance. We’ll even see all-digital fashion collections designed to be exclusively strutted online at social media sites.

The next-gen of smart, connected and healing clothes that actively boost your wellbeing is straight ahead. New technologies mean that fitness wearables will move seamlessly into clothing while self-regulating fabrics will adapt to all kinds of environmental and bodily changes (heat, cold, air flow, movement, UV rays, etc.). We’ll see antibacterial clothes that clean themselves, collagen-infused clothes that moisturize your body all day, clothes that broadcast your mood, pajamas that help you sleep—even clothes weaving in “ancient wellness,” such as lines suffused with Ayurvedic medicinal plants. And more brands will rip off the constricting “labels,” such as “plus-sized” and “man/woman” to create clothes that are truly inclusive around body shape and gender identity.

2019: the year more people trade in the addictive endorphins of manic fashion consumption for the serotonin (true happiness) of choosing clothes that are sustainable, ethical, actively healing and meaningful—one of the most impactful wellness trends we’ve ever seen.

2. Wellness Takes on Overtourism

Overtourism—when a crush of tourists overwhelms a destination—is the #1 issue in the travel industry today, making headlines everywhere. With the growth in wealth worldwide, international travel is exploding, with annual trips jumping from 500 million in 1995 to 1.3 billion today. The problem is that this tourism expansion is hyper-concentrated: Roughly half of all travelers go to just 100 global destinations; everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa and Machu Picchu, the Ginza in Tokyo and Venice’s canals. The damage to those destinations’ infrastructure and environment (and to their residents’ lives) is a terrible wellness issue: from pollution and noisy, garbage-filled landscapes to the destruction of local heritage and culture to pricing locals out of the property market. And it’s not well or pleasant for the tourist, as you know if you’ve ever jockeyed for a selfie with 10,000 other manic people swarming the Trevi Fountain.

It will take a full-court press of solutions from governments and tourism boards—and a real consumer mindset change—to attack overtourism and start spreading travelers to alternative regions and attractions. Wellness tourism will be one key antidote: Not only are the majority of wellness resorts, by nature, in nature (off the crowded, beaten path) but now a growing number of national tourism boards are smartly launching initiatives to combat overtourism (and reduce seasonality) by developing new wellness destinations. To fight the nightmare of overtourism in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the country is developing a Wellness & Spa Tourism Zone in Varaždinske Toplice, an area with centuries of hot springs bathing and other wellness traditions. Japan is developing new wellness tourism routes to coax travelers away from the congested Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo corridor, such as the Dragon Route in the Chebu region, rich in history and hot springs, and the village of Misugi kicking off a wellness travel initiative that lures travelers for stargazing, forest bathing and beer onsens. Many more examples are underway, and it’s going to mean more unique, newly developed wellness destinations for travelers.

As cities get bombarded by tourists, more travelers will crave healing, serene oases in metropolises, so another major trend is the rise of the urban wellness resort. It seems counterintuitive, but some of the world’s top wellness travel brands are moving beyond their roots in idyllic locations to set up shop in big cities. And by “setting up shop” we mean deep, mindbogglingly comprehensive wellness programming served up to both hotel guests and locals. The first One&Only Urban Resorts will soon open in Dubai, a “well” challenge to what a city hotel could be; famed Balinese wellness resort Fivelements will launch a creative urban wellness retreat in Hong Kong this year. Six Senses opens in NYC in 2020, where its first Six Senses Place (bringing together hotel guests and local members in a social wellness community) will offer a dizzying menu of beyond-cutting-edge wellness approaches.

Eco and sustainable tourism are important movements, but the imperative to stop overtourism seems to be resonating more. As Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift, has noted (who coined the term “overtourism”), overtourism speaks to people’s self-interest and fears rather than just their altruism. More overtourism-fighting moves by tourism boards and hospitality brands are ahead, but “Choose Undertourism” needs to become a wellness movement and rallying cry. (And millennials/Gen Z will help, broadcasting the #JOMO (joy of missing out) they experience in exotic, lesser-known travel destinations.)

3. Meditation Goes Plural

Meditation will evolve from a singular to a plural practice, from a generic concept to understanding specific types and their unique brain impacts, just as this explosive market blooms—like yoga and boutique fitness before it—into many varieties. If it sometimes feels like we’ve reached peak mindfulness and meditation, we haven’t. After years of talk, now people are actually doing it (i.e., it’s the fastest-growing health trend in the US). But the growth in people practicing has been matched by profound confusion around the very concepts of “meditation” and “mindfulness” (which also infects medical studies): They get used interchangeably when the research shows that, while there are hundreds of meditation breeds, there are three core types/mechanisms: 1) focused attention (clearing the mind of thoughts), 2) open monitoring (which includes mindfulness meditation), and 3) self-transcending (involving silent mantras). Each is a different practice, activating different brain waves and neuroplastic changes and leading to different outcomes. More clinical trials will study these core types head-to-head and more people will grasp that different meditation practices can help them reach different goals—whether you’ve got a badly scattered mind or need a creative breakthrough. The future? It’s not either/or it’s yes/and—as meditation becomes a plural toolbox for mental wellness.

Meditation will “go plural” in a whole other way. If you used to take that “meditation class,” now ancient and modern varieties will multiply in 2019—whether straight-out-of-Europe sophrology (marrying Eastern meditation practices with Western relaxation concepts) or Kundalini yoga (an ancient, spiritual mash-up of chanted mantra, breathing techniques and movement). “Mindful fitness” brands will surge, where you move with intention or where workouts work in meditation sessions—just as mindful spa experiences will get more creative. More mindful apps and new drop-in meditation studios and wellness centers/clubs (all booming) will become one-stop shops with jaw-droppingly full meditation menus.

A flurry of “meditation technologies” will boost—as well as hack—the meditation experience, using tech-like biofeedback, EEG/brain wave tracking and transcranial direct current stimulation. The Muse 2 headband tracks your brain patterns, heartbeat and movement to optimize your meditation session in real-time while Healium, a virtual reality headset, translates your brainwaves and heartbeat into personal visual meditations. 

The wellness market always pushes the “next” button (“like, meditation is so 2015”). But the meditation research and market is extremely young and just approaching an adoption and conceptual tipping-point (and there’s no expiration date on 5,000-year-old solutions). The future is meditations, more types tailored to what you need most.

4. Prescribing Nature

Imagine going to your doctor, and instead of a prescription for some pharmaceutical, you received a prescription for a 30-minute walk in nature. This is not far-fetched.Put down the Prozac and pick up your walking shoes. This is happening all over the world, and it’s only going to become more prevalent.

As people continue to be overworked and overwrought, they will answer the call of nature, so to speak. And it’s a call that comes from deep within, according to scientists who have been studying this. Nature Deficit Disorder has taken hold, and it’s real—this 24/7, digitally dominated, Instagram-able world is depriving humankind of some very basic, very important nourishment that comes from being outdoors. Much has been written about the evils (and glories) of technology, but the resulting dissociation from our natural surroundings leaves us emotionally and physically worse off. We are bereft of nature. Our bodies—and our minds—need nature. And as more evidence becomes available in mainstream media, more people will seek this “treatment,” and more physicians will be prescribing it. And the price is right, as it doesn’t cost anything to take a walk outside.

A growing number of doctors are “medicalizing nature” because of the medical evidence for its benefits: from the National Health Service in Shetland, Scotland, recently rolling out a whole “nature prescription” program to the pioneering Washington, D.C. program DC Park RX started by Dr. Robert Zarr to Dr. Qing Li at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, whose work on the eye-opening benefits of forest bathing have helped create 62 designated forest bathing therapy centers in Japan used by 5 million people a year. 

The medical evidence for doses of nature is wide-ranging, from a study by the European Society of Cardiology finding that a brisk walk outdoors daily for 25 minutes could add at least three years to your life to others finding it helps repair DNA and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers. It’s powerful medicine for our minds too, with studies indicating walks in nature engage the “default mode” brain network associated with stress-reduction and a boost in cognition, creativity and short-term memory.

Beyond formal nature prescriptions, this trend also spans a serious “back to nature” shift happening across the wellness world, from the rise of “green exercise” (in-nature workouts) offered at more fitness studios, such as the UK’s Biofit, to the continued surge in bringing nature and biophilic design into our homes, schools, offices and hospitals to the nonstop growth in forest bathing programs at wellness travel destinations—whether the luxe new ski resort Le Massif in the French Alps or at the Oberoi Sukhvilas wellness resort in India

Look for nature to be a much-more-prescribed antidote for what ails us.

5. MediScent: Fragrance Gets a Wellness Makeover

The sense of smell is having a wellness renaissance. Once dismissed as the least relevant of the five senses, today, evidence-based studies around scent’s powerful impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing are being released fast and furiously. At the same time, new aromas are being discovered, including Glossier You’s personalized perfumes to enhance your own skin’s scent. New scent-based applications and products are being announced, such as Aeroscena’s gel pods diffusers that are used not only for feel good, functional scents in homes and offices but are also being tested as alternatives to pharmaceuticals in medical trials. And there is much innovation in how we harness the power of scent, such as Scentee’s smart diffuser that lets you change up scents from your smartphone.

There are candles and oils to evoke a precise sense of place (to trigger positive memories) and scents used as mental wellness supplements (Nue Co. is marketing an anti-stress supplement as fragrance). Art installations, such as Jean-Marc Chaillan’s Mood Cloud, are exploring the not too far-fetched concept of melding wellness with big data, using microsensors that measure stress levels and showering calming aromas over stressed-out parts of a city. There’s simply ever more research that scent impacts cognitive health, such as the discovery that tasting and smelling wine works the brain harder than a math problem.  

Scent is being used as no-cal flavoring (SZENT is already selling water flavored with fragrance); restaurants are creating scent-based menus; and luxury hotels, including a recently opened Fendi hotel in Rome, are empowering guests to personalize their room’s aroma from a scent menu. As studies show that smell registers in our brains first—before sight, sound or touch—more marketers are employing scent to make us spend more time and money, while all kinds of product designers are focusing on scent as they bring new products to market. NanoScent, an Israel-based start-up, is trying to turn our smartphones into “scent catchers” and has developed a matchmaking app that uses scent to help identify suitable mates (based on the same technology that detects breast cancer by recognizing changes in the tissue’s smell).

We expect that the neuroscience of scent will become more pervasive in everything we do, and fragrances will be used in ways we would never have dreamed of—both in public and personal spaces. 

6. China  – Uncovering the Wealth in Wellness

No country will have a bigger impact on the future global wellness economy than China, suddenly an economic, political and tech powerhouse. To grasp this impact, you have to expand your brain’s notions of scale. With a population of 1.4 billion, China’s middle class will skyrocket from 430 million today to 780 million by 2025. The country already drives more than half of all global e-commerce. Wrap your mind around China’s outbound travel growth, which has expanded 20-fold since 2000—now at 145 million international trips annually, to rise to 200 million in two years, and then doubling to 400 million by 2030 (when China will represent 30 percent of the entire international travel market).

China is undergoing a wellness (and beauty) revolution; one could cite hundreds of stats. Over 70 percent of its middle class exercise regularly and purchase organic food, 104 million Chinese have at least one fitness app on their phones, and China accounts for 41 percent of all global cosmetic procedures.

Chinese tourists will rewrite the wellness travel market: They’re now rejecting the old shopping/sightseeing tours to embrace authentic cultural and wellness experiences. (China is the fastest-growing wellness tourism market, jumping to third globally in lightning-fast time). With overpopulation and record-high pollution, the wellness real estate market is booming (now 2nd globally) with amazing projects, such as Liuzhou Forest City with its smog-eating facades covered by nearly 40,000 trees. The wellness boom in China is being driven by forces like the roaring “she-conomy” (incredible growth in women’s spending power) and the fact that so many more Chinese are now seeking their authentic roots and a spiritual purpose in life. The country is also facing a health crisis—from an unsupported aging population to ballooning obesity rates—and the government has launched a super-ambitious “Healthy China 2030”initiative with wellness targets such as having 530 million more people take part in regular exercise.

China’s indigenous wellness traditions and unique destinations will increasingly grab the world’s attention, from new, authentic wellness travel destinations to its 425,000 TCM practitioners to its Buddhist and Taoist spiritual cuisine. Wellness hospitality leaders like Alila, Aman, Banyan Tree and Six Senses have recently launched sophisticated, authentic wellness resorts in China, such as Amanyangyun near Shanghai, a vast wellness destination with a unique focus on ancient Chinese culture and holistic healingMore people will seek temple getaways, where they reset their mental wellness and diet withBuddhist, Confucian and Taoist gurus. More will seek to experience TCM at its birthplace, such as at visa-free Hainan Island, an emerging TCM and wellness tourism hotspot. (TCM will be implemented by the World Health Organization in 2022, and China plans 15 more TCM destination “zones” like Hainan by 2020.) More people will become fascinated by Chinese spiritual cuisine, an extraordinarily poetic, creative and refined form of vegetarian dining. 

Napoleon famously said, “When China wakes…she will shake the world.” She will certainly shake the future wellness world.  

7. Nutrition Gets Very Personalized

What we put in our bodies—whether it’s food, drink or supplements—has never been more scrutinized. Many would argue that this obsessional focus—from where our food is sourced to its nutritional content to the rise of vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free diets to the growing food tribes of keto, paleo and the like—has led to a healthier population. Not if your mind boggles every time you consider putting something in your mouth, or you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs because you’ve limited certain foods, or if your weight yo-yos every time you try the “next, best” weight loss experiment.

Enter the age of personalized nutrition where science, low-cost medical testing and new technologies identify what foods are right just for us—not only for weight management but, more importantly, to boost overall health and wellbeing. This includes companies such as Habit and Nutrigenomix, which rely on blood and DNA analyses to specify what foods are right for you. Or companies such as Baze that focus solely on helping individuals meet their personal nutritional needs (appealing to specific food tribe members who are worried they aren’t getting all the right nutrients) by providing supplements based on blood work conducted every three months.

The newly launched Onegevity Health adds microbiome analysis to the mix and promises to deliver personalized products and services that support skin health, cognition, heart health and sports performance.

New devices, such as Lumen, which uses your CO2 to measure how you’re burning fuel and suggests which foods you should eat, are now available to help you understand exactly which nutrients your body needs. AI-powered apps, such as Pinto and Calorie Mama, let you know what exact nutrients and calories are sitting on the plate in front of you.

As “one-size-fits-all” health and wellness practices fall by the wayside and the understanding of epigenetics—the study of how our genes are shaped by our behavior—grows, personalized nutrition will hit the mainstream in increasingly surprising ways, such as Gatorade’s chip-enabled skin patch that measures hydration so its drinks can deliver exactly what that athlete needs.

In the near future, we will know much more about what the enormous ecosystem inside each of us is telling us, including how much exercise you really need to how our bodies react to specific nutrients. Fad diet confusion, new tech, and the “power of me” will propel personalized nutrition into the mainstream.

8. Dying Well

It’s difficult to present a trend with “dying” in the title; most people’s response: “Oh no, not relevant to me, I’ll skip.” It’s symptomatic of our modern death-denying culture where the (f)act of death is hidden and terrifying. If until the early 20th century people died at home surrounded by loved ones, Western medicine has since made it a coldly clinical affair in a hospital or nursing home. The funeral industry then co-opted the management of our dead, and with a decline in formal religion, healing communal rituals got lost. And two very modern forces are complicit in exacerbating the death-denial problem: a Silicon Valley biotech industry that aims to “cure death” and radically extend life—and the wellness market itself, with its endless don’t-age, never-die messages. But suddenly a “death positive” movement is here with everything around death and dying getting rethought through a more “well” lens: from making the dying process more humane to the radicalreinvention of the memorial and funeral to active death exploration/acceptance practices becoming part of a mentally healthy life.

Death doulas, wellness practitioners that fill that yawning gap in care between medicine and hospice, families and fear—and who are dedicated to delivering better, more meaningful and peaceful deaths—are gaining serious traction around the world. With rising evidence for psychedelic magic mushrooms’ power to relieve the emotional distresses of those facing end-of-life, psilocybin looks to be a bigger part of the future “dying well” toolbox (and researchers predict it could become legal medicine in five years).Funerals are becoming less gloomily formal, fixed and funereal and more deeply personal: from the rise of celebratory “living funerals” to the return of the creative home funeral.

As people become aware of how environmentally toxic traditional embalmment, burial and cremation is, we’re seeing some seriously out-of-the-box, eco-friendly “burial” options: from mushroom burial suits lined with flesh-eating fungi that speed your return to nature to biodegradable burial egg-pods where your body/ashes grow the tree you most want to become.Research shows that denying death can cause serious mental issues, so more people are actively exploring death as a wellness practice, and many more online platforms, classes, festivals and events are meeting the hunger to just talk about it, such as “death cafes” now held in 64 countries. More people are exploring alternative wisdom and practices around death from cultures worldwide, whether guided death meditations at Zen Buddhist centers or studying the ancient Roman Stoics’ death acceptance techniques (the Stoics are really trending now) or just downloading the WeCroak app, pinging you five times daily with Tibetan meditations reminding you that you will die. People are even traveling to have the caring and spiritual death they seek.

There’s more positive movement around death and dying in the last few years than in the last 150. The future: a “better death” becomes an integral part of a “well life.”

Zest Magazine accepts contributions promoting everything about living the good life (and how to make this so). C'mon, give us a yell.

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Royal Canin connects pet owners to trusted veterinary professionals

Pet owners across the Philippines can now access over 20,000 free pet checkups and 4,000 BMPV care kits for their furry friends through the Royal Canin Club mobile application, as well as other pet rewards made available on the platform.

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Royal Canin launched its Bring My Pet to the Vet (BMPV) campaign as part of its commitment to champion responsible pet ownership among Filipino pet parents. Pet owners across the Philippines can now access over 20,000 free pet checkups and 4,000 BMPV care kits for their furry friends through the Royal Canin Club mobile application, as well as other pet rewards made available on the platform. 

Over the past year, more Filipinos are turning to pets as their trusted quarantine companions. However, a survey by Kantar shows that 93% and 50% of cat and dog owners, respectively, do not get their pets checked regularly. The survey also highlights that most owners only bring their pets to the veterinarian for vaccinations and medical procedures, reflecting how wellness checkups are not common in the Philippines.

With this, Royal Canin introduced the BMPV campaign to encourage both new and old pet owners to bring their pets to the vet as early and as regular as they can, and understand the importance of pet preventive healthcare and medicalization. The campaign also underlines the role that veterinarians play in Filipinos’ pets’ lives, as it provides a platform for pet owners to connect with their trusted vet partners and clinics, ultimately building a more connected and engaged pet community in the Philippines. 

This year, Royal Canin leverages its mobile platform, the Royal Canin Club app, to strengthen its 2019 Bring My Dog to the Vet (BMDV)  campaign and relate to more pet owners nationwide. To claim the free checkup, pet owners just need to claim the free consultation voucher under the mobile application’s rewards, find the nearest clinic in the store locator by selecting the Vet feature, and reach out to the clinics directly to book their appointments for consultation. On the day of their appointment, pet owners need to present their generated checkup QR code on their Royal Canin Club app to avail of the free consultation. Afterward, users are encouraged to complete their post-checkup survey for more amazing perks and rewards in the application.

Royal Canin’s BMPV campaign seeks to redefine its previous campaign, which gave away 3,000 free consultations for Filipino pet owners through the company’s website.  Now made available on the Royal Canin Club app, it becomes a culmination of two purposeful pet preventive healthcare campaigns. It hopes to further educate pet owners about the signals to watch out from their pets to guide them and encourage them to work closely with their vets in achieving optimum health for their beloved furry friends.  

“We, at Royal Canin, recognize the value of preventive pet healthcare and the important role that our veterinary partners and clinics play in one’s pet’s life. Through our new Bring My Pet to the Vet campaign, we hope to instill this mindset and become a platform for pet owners to build a stronger bond with their veterinarians as we work together to safeguard the health of their pets even during such unprecedented time,” says Adriann Eusebio, Royal Canin Philippines’ Country Director. “We want to highlight how important it is for pet owners to have access to credible and reliable pet information, as we continue to improve our services with our loyal customers and partners giving us actionable insights about pet healthcare along the way.”

As the vet checkups require physical visits, Royal Canin ensures everyone that their partner veterinarians and pet shops follow the strict safety protocols of the government when taking in patients and customers. The company works closely with vet clinics to ensure that all pet owners secure appointments first before their visit to avoid overcrowding in their establishments. 

“We understand the safety concerns of our partners and customers about going out to visit their vets amid the pandemic. With the lockdowns still in place, our BMPV campaign also ensures to encourage pet owners to become responsible citizens, as much as they are as pet parents, and abide by proper COVID-19 protocols of their vet partners and clinics to avoid the spread of the virus, “ adds Eusebio. “At Royal Canin, we aim to enforce extra precautions to address our customers’ concerns and are committed to improving our services by opening our lines of communication for improvement.”

For more information on Royal Canin’s Bring My Pet to the Vet campaign, pet owners may download the Royal Canin Club application, read about pet healthcare information, and claim their voucher through the platform. One may also visit the Royal Canin Philippines on Facebook and Instagram at @RoyalCaninPH for more details about the Royal Canin Club app and other updates about the brand.

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PLDT, Smart inspire hope through mental health campaign

The project is a platform where today’s generation of changemakers and mental health advocates create capsules of self-reflection and creative expressions. It is part of a series of mental health initiatives to be implemented all through May, in celebration of the Mental Health Awareness Month.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash.com

With the COVID-19 pandemic posing an extraordinary impact on our world today, PLDT and Smart, through its Better Today program, launched the “Time Capsule Project”.

The project is a platform where today’s generation of changemakers and mental health advocates create capsules of self-reflection and creative expressions. It is part of a series of mental health initiatives to be implemented all through May, in celebration of the Mental Health Awareness Month. 

The Time Capsule Project champions mental health awareness amid the pandemic. It empowers the youth to take a deep dive into their current mental health state by expressing these thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams through the power of art. These can be done through various forms such as drawings, paintings, poetry, or prose. PLDT and Smart recognize these as important and valid reflections of our time today. These serve as valuable lessons to learn in hopes for a better tomorrow. 

This project is one of the key components of Better Today, which is a collaborative initiative and platform of PLDT and Smart in line with its advocacy to educate and empower Filipinos towards digital well-being, family and child online safety, and youth empowerment and changemaking. 

The creation of time capsules is anchored on Better Today’s key narrative, which include passion and purpose, resilience, empathy and hope. These are things that enable us to become better versions of ourselves, enabling us to cope amid these dark and uncertain times. 

Aside from art entries, the Time Capsule Project also include other mental health initiatives such as the visual arts and writing workshop and a virtual storytelling series on mental health called, “Better Today Conversations”. 

Some of the changemakers and storytellers who will provide their messages of hope, include Words Anonymous, clinical experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) and advocacy groups such as MentalHealthPh and Youth for Mental Health Coalition. 

To know more about the Time Capsule Project and the details on how to join the art festival, please follow Better Today PH at (@bettertodayph) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Allianz PNB Life expands coverage for COVID-19 vaccines

Despite the variety of safe and effective options available to the public, and the numerous endorsements from health experts and authorities, public anxiety over vaccines persists. And while certain risks may cause concern, the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh them.

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Since the start of the Philippines’ mass vaccination program in March, over a million vaccines have been administered to Filipinos to fight COVID-19. However, slow rollout and low vaccination rates in the country prove that the population still has a long way to go before it can achieve herd immunity to end the pandemic.

So far, the vaccines available and given in the Philippines are Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have also been approved for emergency use. Other vaccines expected to arrive in the coming months are Moderna, Gamaleya’s Sputnik V, Novavax, and those from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility. With these incoming vaccines, the government is expected to ramp up inoculation by the second half of the year to inoculate at least 50 to 70 million Filipinos within 2021. 

Despite the variety of safe and effective options available to the public, and the numerous endorsements from health experts and authorities, public anxiety over vaccines persists. And while certain risks may cause concern, the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh them. 

Recent data has shown that the four leading countries in terms of vaccination have succeeded in flattening or decreasing cases after inoculating over 40% of their population. In Israel, severe cases and deaths declined rapidly after more than 84% of its elderly population were fully vaccinated in February. This has allowed their authorities to ease up on previous restrictions and for the public to now go mask-free.

“All is well” in building immunity against COVID

At present, Allianz PNB Life is one with the Filipino people in fighting COVID-19. “COVID-19 has posed many different challenges to people’s health and finances. Much like the vaccines available now, Allianz Well! is a timely offer that can protect people from the effects of the pandemic, including but not limited to COVID-19,” said CEO Alexander Grenz.

Through Allianz Well!, customers can get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available from a preferred healthcare provider. Its Wellness Benefit covers up to Php 10,000 yearly and allows reimbursement for vaccines up to this amount. On top of a quick and easy claims process, the policy fully covers hospitalization and emergency care for COVID-19, along with cancer treatment, dialysis, and organ transplant. 

It also offers convenient and reliable care with unlimited, 24/7 expert telemedicine consultation. With an annual plan limit of Php 100 million that’s one of the highest in the country today, it can supplement any existing HMO so you can get treated whenever and wherever by your chosen provider.

“Our policy is tailored to ensure that Filipinos get the best and most comprehensive kind of coverage,” said Grenz. “This is our way of saying that all is well and all should be well because Allianz is with them during COVID-19 and beyond.”

To help ease worries surrounding vaccination, below are answers by the World Health Organization, Department of Health, and Philippine General Hospital to some of the frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • What is vaccine efficacy?
    Vaccine efficacy is the effectiveness of a vaccine in controlled trials. WHO requires vaccines to have an efficacy rate of at least 50% and ensures they undergo rigorous testing and screening before they are approved. For example, a vaccine with a 50% rate reduces your chances of contracting COVID-19 by 45%. So far, all approved vaccines are 100% effective in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19. 
  • Does the COVID-19 vaccine have any side effects?
    Side effects are common not just in vaccines but other prescription and over-the-counter drugs too. Side effects from vaccines indicate that the body is starting to protect you from the virus. Common ones include fatigue, body pains, fever, chills, and nausea which last only a few days. 
  • Who cannot take the vaccine?
    Only those who show allergic response to the vaccine after the first dose or its certain components from past treatments should not take it. Individuals who are allergic to other vaccines, immunocompromised, and/or pregnant or breastfeeding mothers with comorbidities should consult their doctor before getting vaccinated. The same goes for those receiving steroids, anticoagulation therapy, and/or antibody-based COVID-19 therapy.

Before taking any important steps regarding your health, it is always best to consult a medical professional. Allianz urges everyone to stay well, informed, and future-proof through the pandemic.

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