South Cotabato

Influenza kills 4 kids, downs 160 people in South Cotabato

Rommel Rebollido

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Influenza kills 4 kids, downs 160 people in South Cotabato


South Cotabato health authorities say influenza has spread to six Lake Sebu communities and has affected Tboli tribal group members

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Health authorities declared an influenza outbreak in a town in South Cotabato that has so far spread to six remote communities near the scenic Lake Sebu.

The influenza outbreak, which affected more than 100 people, has so far claimed the lives of several children in at least six communities in the hinterland coal-mining village of Ned in Lake Sebu town, confirmed South Cotabato Provincial Health Office chief Rogelio Aturdido Jr. on Monday, June 5.

Dr. Aturdido said the health office also logged at least 160 influenza cases in the six communities alone.

“Four children died last week,” he said.

The increased number of influenza cases was initially reported by health workers who went to the villages to offer vaccine doses in connection to the government’s Chikiting Ligtas campaign, which aims to provide children with anti-measles and anti-polio vaccines.

Aturdido said the affected residents, who are mostly members of the Tboli tribal group, suffered from colds, coughing, and fever.

Teams of health workers had collected samples from villagers who fell ill, which were then sent to Manila for laboratory tests to find out what caused the outbreak.

Aturdido said the health office implemented measures to prevent the further spread of influenza.

An information campaign was also launched to educate the predominantly Tboli communities about influenza, according to Aturdido.

He said the health office would establish a satellite health center in Sitio Blit, one of the six affected communities, to ensure that people in the six remote communities can access government healthcare services and proactively address vaccine-preventable diseases.

Aturdido cited a low vaccination turnout among children in Blit and nearby communities, attributing it to their distance from the Rural Health Center in Ned.

Earlier, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Barangay Ned qualifies and should be turned into a town to improve residents’ access to basic government services.

Tamayo said the mountain village meets all the legal requirements in terms of land area, population, and revenue generated by local businesses.

Ned is where the San Miguel Corporation-owned Daguma Agro-Minerals Incorporated conducts coal-mining operations in a 1,700-hectare area. –

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