Agusan del Sur

216 Agusan del Sur flood victims fall ill after taking relief aid meals

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

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216 Agusan del Sur flood victims fall ill after taking relief aid meals

FALL ILL. Flood victims get treated at the Esperanza Medicare Community Hospital following a suspected food poisoning on Monday evening, February 19.

Agusan del Sur Provincial Information Office

The Philippine National Red Cross-Agusan del Sur suspends its hot meals program pending the results of an investigation

BUTUAN, Philippines – Over 200 residents from a flooded village in Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur, fell ill and are suspected to have suffered from food poisoning after consuming hot meals distributed by aid workers on Monday, February 19.

Jasmin Carlos, health education and promotion officer at Esperanza Medicare Community Hospital (EMCH), told a news conference that at least 216 residents from Barangay Tandang Sora in Esperanza town were taken to the hospital around 6 pm on Monday, with symptoms such as stomach aches, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea.

“Upon examination, assessment, and consultation, we provided appropriate management intervention by administering intravenous fluids and the prescribed medications recommended by our doctors at the hospital,” Carlos said.

Jacqueline Momville, the provincial health officer of Agusan del Sur, said they could not rule out food poisoning or contaminated water as the cause.

“We will collect water samples from the source where the food was cooked. We are also looking for the raw or uncooked sample of the food, and we are studying the events in a blow-by-blow manner,” Momville said

Most of the patients were elderly people and children, with the youngest being an eight-month-old baby and a one-year-old.

Maria Theresa Labiao, the health officer of Esperanza, noted that in remote areas, it is common for parents to give babies the same food as adults.

On Monday afternoon, the victims were served rice, chicken liver adobo, and boiled eggs, by the relief aid volunteers and cooks. The food was provided by the Philippine National Red Cross-Agusan del Sur as part of the group’s Hot Meals on Wheels program for flood victims.

Darwina Ligan, PRC-Agusan del Sur administrator, told local broadcaster DXGP-Agusan Radio that they prepared 1,000 meals alone for Tandang Sora.

PRC has dispatched food trucks to the flood-stricken areas in Agusan del Sur, including the towns of Bunawan, San Luis, Talacogon, and Esperanza, each accompanied by five student volunteers who served as servers, along with two cooks.

On Tuesday evening, February 20, the PRC released a statement noting that while the cause of the health emergency remains under investigation by the local government, its meals program in the province has been suspended until the completion of the probe.

“Rest assured that PRC supports the investigation. PRC remains transparent and will closely coordinate with the local government on this serious matter,” PRC said.

Esperanza Mayor Deo Manpatilan Jr. said the last thing they wanted to do was to point fingers given that the PRC only wanted to help. 

“There is an ongoing investigation. We hope to prevent the same situation from happening in the future,” Manpatilan said.

Among the 216 patients, 142 are under EMCH, while the rest have been moved to nearby community hospitals as bed capacity has already been reached.

Based on the EMCH daily census report as of 8 pm on Tuesday, the number of patients under observation is 51, and 91 have already been discharged. –

Ivy Marie Mangadlao is a community journalist writing for Mindanews and an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow for 2023-2024.

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