Lady solon fears spread of A(H1N1)flu in Mindanao shelters

July 5, 2009 10:30 pm 

MANILA, July 5 –Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza has urged national and local health authorities to look after families in evacuation camps in Mindanao, saying "they are extremely susceptible to Influenza A(H1N1)."

"Compared to the general population, people in evacuation camps, particularly the elderly, pregnant women, and children, face exceedingly higher risk of infection due to poor sanitation and deficient nutrition," Taliño-Mendoza said.

The Cotabato lawmaker appealed to donors for extra food aid as well as protective and sanitation materials, including face masks, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, and soap for distribution to shelters.

The vulnerability of refugees is being aggravated by the short supply of food and water in shelters, according to Taliño-Mendoza.

"Conditions in shelters are depressing. Food is rationed. Families do not get to eat enough," she said.

There were instances when the day’s food supply was delayed, or not delivered at all because of persistent armed harassment by lawless elements, or security threats to relief workers conveying the provisions, she said.

She also said water both for drinking and hand-washing were scarce in shelters.

As of July 3, the Philippines ranked eight worldwide in terms of "laboratory-confirmed cases" of Influenza A(H1N1), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Department of Health last reported a total of 1,709 cases of Influenza A(H1N1) nationwide, including one death.

According to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) the country had about 600,000 evacuees, who fled fighting between the military and rebel groups in Mindanao last year. They accounted for 13 percent of the 4.6 million newly internally displaced people around the world in 2008.

The IDMC is a unit of the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council, an independent, humanitarian non-governmental organization providing aid, protection and durable solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide. (PNA)

RMA/PR/rsm

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