2 deaths due to diarrhea recorded in Lanao Sur evacuation centers

Jun. 20, 2017

FILE PHOTO. At the evacuation center, families from Marawi City will have to go through the daily discomforts, far from what they used to live in their homes and communities. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com photo)

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – A top health official in Lanao del Sur province confirmed on Monday two cases of death among the evacuees in the area due to diarrhea.

Dr. Alinader Minalang, the provincial health officer of Lanao del Sur said more than 300 diarrhea cases were already recorded by their office since the displaced families and individuals from Marawi took temporary refuge in evacuation centers in the area.

“The record is based on the daily reports submitted to us,” Minalang told reporters in an interview on Monday morning here.

He said that of the two cases of death due to severe dehydration, one was recorded at the evacuation site in the town of Malabang while the other was in Saguiran municipality.

The evacuees who died, he added were home-based.

Two more cases of deaths due to diarrhea were recorded in the province but the victims were not evacuees, Minalang clarified.

A total of 19 cases of deaths on evacuees have been reported but authorities clarified that the cause of deaths was due to different illnesses.

Twenty percent of the more than 200,000 displaced individuals from Marawi are now staying in various evacuation centers and are confronted with various problems such as congestion, sanitation, lack of enough water supply and food.

Eighty percent of the evacuees are considered home-based or staying with their relatives in towns, cities, and provinces in various parts of Mindanao.

Minalang also denied reports of a case of cholera in one of the evacuation centers.

“We are still confirming the report. We cannot say there is cholera because most of those who are sick are due to acute gastroenteritis are still being subjected to laboratory examinations,” he pointed out.

There is still no basis to conclude that the cause of the increase of acute gastroenteritis cases is due to cholera, he added.

He said that cases of acute gastroenteritis usually increase in evacuation centers where people are congested.

“Ang ating mga evacuees ay on their 4thweek na of stay in evacuation centers. Mahirap ang kanilang kalagayan,” Minalang said.

He also took note that evacuees, including the elderly and the children, sleep on cemented floors covered only with a thin mat.

Nutrition, he added, is also a factor that affects the health conditions of evacuees.

“Alam naman natin na they are only relying on relief goods,” Minalang said, referring to the usual food packs that evacuees receive – to include canned goods and packs of noodles.

“The sanitation facilities in evacuation centers are not enough, especially the toilets and the lack of water supply that they need daily,” he added.

But despite the situation, Minalang said they are trying to address the situation to control the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis among the evacuees.

“It’s also good to note na wala tayong nakikitang sign of outbreak ng ganitong mga sakit, nag increase lang yong number ng ating diarrhea cases,” he clarified.

Evacuees at the gymnasium in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte also deal with the problems of congestion and sanitation, said Nesphia Ali of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The gymnasium presently houses 172 families or 1,025 individuals.


Read related story: Congestion, sanitation problems confront Marawi evacuees in Balo-i

Acute gastroenteritis is also one of the common illnesses that the recently-concluded National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission found among the 343 patients served in various evacuation centers.

Mission members also found issues on pregnant women and cases of pneumonia and upper respiratory tract infection in the centers.

The mission also concluded that the sanitation situation and the lack of enough supply of potable water reflected the top diseases of evacuees in the centers.

Read related story: Interfaith mission sees looming humanitarian crisis

Most vulnerable

Minalang said they are also looking closely at children, the elderly, persons with disability and pregnant women in evacuation centers.

They are considered as most vulnerable in difficult situations such as in evacuation centers, he added.

He said they are also monitoring cases of coughs especially of children and elderly.

“Pwedeng mangyari ang worst scenario na magkaroon ng break doon sa kanilang immune system na maging dahilan ng pagkakaroon ng ibat-ibang sakit,” he emphasized.

Concern for pregnant women and lactating mothers is also being given emphasis at the evacuation center in Buru-un, Iligan City, particularly at the Fisheries High School.

Peregrina Mantos of the Department of Social Welfare and Development of Iligan told reporters in an interview on Sunday, June 18 that pregnant women and lactating mothers at the center receive and eat the regular food support provided to their families – canned goods, noodles.

Mantos and a number of volunteers supervise the daily activities at the evacuation center that houses 169 families.

Of the total number, two are pregnant women; four mothers are with 0 to 6 months old babies, and 11 mothers are with 7 to 9 months babies.

“Mothers want to buy nutritious food in the market such as vegetables, fishes but the problem is money. They have no money now to buy those nutritious foods,” she pointed out.

Construction of more facilities

The information office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said more toilets, bathing and washing facilities will be constructed in evacuation centers to promote hygiene and sanitation and ensure the health and well-being of displaced families.

Last June 17, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman led the inspection of evacuation centers in Saguiran town and found out the unfavorable conditions of the centers that might expose the evacuees, especially the children to potential health risks.

The Department of Public Works and Highways of ARMM is set to construct 20 toilets in two evacuation camps in Saguiaran and 10 toilets in Malabang.

“The construction will also include washing and bathing facilities and the provision of water tanks. The facilities, which will be separate for male and female, will cater to a total of at least 500 families,” the information office said. (davaotoday.com)

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