Diarrhea outbreak in Eastern Visayas kills 13
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – A diarrhea outbreak has afflicted 14 towns in Eastern Visayas, leaving 13 people dead and 1,370 admitted in hospitals.
The Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas reported fecal contamination of drinking water in parts of the region.
As of Friday, June 3, records from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-8 showed that the diarrhea outbreak has afflicted the following towns:
- Hilongos - 316 cases
- Jipapad - 54 cases
- Las Navas, Northern Samar - 202 cases
- Gamay, Northern Samar - 65 cases
- Lavezares, Northern Samar - 40 cases
- Calbiga - 215 cases
- Catbalogan City - 219 cases
- Santa Rita - 113 cases
- Zumarraga - 82 cases
- Talalora - 28 cases
- Pinabacdao - 19 cases
- Santa Margarita - 11 cases
- Basey - 5 cases
- Daram - 1 case
A total of 13 casualties were reported from 6 towns. Most of them were children below 10 years old:
- Catbalogan City, Samar - 5 deaths
- Calbiga, Samar - 2 deaths
- Santa Rita, Samar - 2 deaths
- Talalora, Samar - 2 deaths
- Santa Margarita, Samar - 1 death
- Daram, Samar - 1 death
Boyd Cerro, chief of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-8, disclosed that only few in the region have access to clean water, leaving the majority vulnerable to waterborne diseases by simply drinking water.
"Clean water should be available to all, but sadly, that's far from most of the towns in the region," Cerro said.
"Diseases from contaminated water and poor sanitation are all too common. Young children and women are especially vulnerable to the spread of such diseases."
'Lack of safe drinking water'
In most of the towns in the region, water is basically just tap water, and because of this, people are exposed to continuous risk of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, polio, and cholera.
The lack of safe drinking water, poor hygiene, and the lack of sanitation are significant contributors to such diseases.
In Samar province alone, especially in some of its island towns like Talalora, Daram, Zumarraga, Tagapul-an, and the Sierra Islands, less than one in 4 people have access to improved sanitation. The numbers are worse in rural villages, where toilets and latrines are rare, and open defecation stands.
Poor villages are often forced to exploit their natural resources in order to survive. Water sources are particularly vulnerable. In too many cases, they are abused to such an extent that they can no longer provide for a community's basic needs, and even end up posing serious health risks.
However, opportunities for reversing this situation exist. What must be done is to prioritize water management and development, and for communities to play a major role in solving the problem. This will entail the full involvement of communities in the planning and development of their own water systems.
Currently, DOH continuously supplies chlorine and aqua tabs to supply clean water and sanitation to people living in several areas in the region.
"We are calling all other concerned agencies to help these people in need, and provide support for clean water program. We must ensure that vulnerable people are not needlessly exposed to risks when looking for water elsewhere," Cerro said.
He added: "A comprehensive solution is needed to reduce waterborne diseases and must include increasing access not only to safe drinking water, but also to improved sanitation, while addressing hygiene behavior."
"Integrated programs which include water, sanitation and public health promotion will reduce these outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the region." – Rappler.com