PHILIPPINE Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said on Thursday the government has intensified its preparations to deal with any national disaster, particularly with the onset of the typhoon season.
In a press conference, Ubial said to mark the annual July “National Disaster Conciousness Month,” the Department of Health (DOH) and all its hospitals and agencies have been coordinating and studying measures to ease the impact of natural disasters.
“The government, particularly the DOH, targets to reduce the morbidity and mortality from disasters that may occur in the country. If we are unable to reduce them, we do not want to surpass past figures,” Ubial told reporters.
Theme of this year’s National Disaster Conciousness Month is “Kahandaan at Pagtuon sa Sakuna, Tungkulin ng bawat Isa,” which focuses on the success stories of the DOH hospitals in emergency preparedness and disaster management, Ubial said.
Dr. Gloria Balboa, director of the DOH-Health Emergency Management Bureau, said they have prepositioned equipment and medicines to hospitals, such as mannequins for basic life support training, short-wave radio, foldable bike with machines and medical supplies for mobility in impassable roads, life-saving apparatus, and information materials for emergency and disasters.
Ubial said the celebration of the National Disaster Consciousness Month is a “DOH commitment” to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Philippines ranks second among the countries with the highest disaster risks in the world, according to the 2014 World Risk Report by the United Nations.
The same report said that from 1900 to 2012, there were 531 recorded disasters in the Philippines affecting 160 million people and causing US$ 10.5 billion in economic damages.
In 2013 alone, 16 disasters hit the country affecting 26 million people with at least 8,000 casualties, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said in a 2014 report.
A study conducted by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from 2002 to 2004 showed that the National Capital Region is “at highest risk in the event of a strong earthquake that may emanate from seismic fault zones crossing Luzon.”
Among the activities held or slated for the July disaster preparations celebrations are: 1) earthquake drill at the Valenzuela Medical Center; 2) DOH showing of a film on a fictional major earthquake; and exercise on the DOH Business Continuity Plan (or how the DOH is expected to cope in case of a major earthquake.)
“Personal hygiene and hand washing are important to prevent illnesses. As much as possible, avoid wading in floods as these waters are contaminated and people may acquire leptospirosis. If it can’t be avoided, the public is advised to wear boots, and to immediately wash the exposed body parts with clean water and soap,” Ubial said.
People in evacuation centers are encouraged to wash their hands with clean soap and water before preparing food and before and after eating.
Washing of hands after using the comfort room is advisable. It is also best that water is boiled for at least two minutes before drinking. Breastfeeding should be continued. Breastmilk is the best and safest food for babies.
People who have fever, colds, or cough are advised to immediately seek medical attention and avoid crowded places in order to avoid complications.
“Lahat tayo ay may responsibilidad na kailangan gampanan upang maprotektahan ang ating sarili, pamilya, at ang ating komunidad laban sa sakit at sakuna. Lahat para sa kalusugan tungo sa kalusugan para sa lahat,” Ubial told reporters.