DOH, UNICEF urge LGUs to prioritize sanitation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 20, 2019   •   201

The Department of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urge local government units in the country to prioritize sanitation.

With this, the DOH launched the Philippine Approach to Sustainable Sanitation (PhATSS) policy in Baseco, Tondo, Manila in celebration of World Toilet Day (WTD) on November 19.

DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that using a toilet as well as the practice of handwashing with soap after using the toilet and before eating helps prevent the transmission of polio, among other diseases.

“DOH is reminding the public to practice good hygiene and urging the Local Government Units (LGUs) through the aid of DOH Centers for Health Development (CHDs) to intensify their Zero Open Defecation Program,” he said.

The PhATSS policy cites new sanitation targets for all barangays across the Philippines to achieve Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status by 2025. 

“Using the PhATSS policy, LGUs are guided on how to track the sanitation situation of each community and take supportive action to ensure that no one is left behind without access to a sanitary toilet,” according to the DOH.

The health department also said that there are currently only 11% of barangays (only 4625 out of a total 42,045) are certified ZOD, where people have abandoned the practice of open defecation.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Julia Rees said UNICEF provides technical assistance to DOH in scaling up sanitation programs.

“The effect of proper sanitation on health, nutrition, education, and security of Filipino children and women is paramount. It’s about time to look at addressing the sanitation needs of people in urban slums, in remote and geographically isolated areas, and in indigenous communities for a healthier, more progressive Philippines, and to ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.—AAC

DOH monitors child from Wuhan, China who manifested flu-like symptoms

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

Medical staff transfer patients to Jinyintan hospital where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 20 January 2020. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is monitoring the case of a five-year old boy with a history of travel to Wuhan, China for manifesting flu-like symptoms.

The child, who arrived in Cebu with his mother on January 12, was admitted in a hospital in Central Visayas after he manifested symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, throat irritation and cough prior to entering the Philippines.

The DOH said the young boy is now in stable condition but still had cough.

Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.

But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning that he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.

The DOH said the child will remain “a person under investigation” until they could get confirmatory results.

The Bureau of Quarantine is carrying out tracing of air passengers who may have come in contact with the boy during transit.

“We are reminding the airlines that the universal protective kit should be available anytime on board, the passenger locator card, the protocol on handling cases on board and of course reporting of cases on board to the ground crew,” Bureau of Quarantine director, Dr. Ferdinand Salcedo said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted through contact with an infected person.

“We are not sure of the source of the virus whether it came from animal or meat and other source. We believe that maybe human-to-human transmission,” WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said.

The DOH said they are also monitoring three other individuals who manifested flu-like symptoms upon their arrival at the Kalibo International Airport.

The agency said all three travelers, reportedly Chinese nationals, are currently well and are no longer exhibiting any symptoms.

All hospitals and medical facilities in the country have been alerted about cases of coronavirus.

The WHO said there are 222 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus – majority of them are from China while others were from Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

The new strain of coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The DOH advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with infected person and to thoroughly cook food, especially meat and dairy products. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Ash-covered fruits, veggies still safe to eat after thorough washing, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that fruits and vegetables covered with layers of ash from the Taal Volcano are still safe to eat after some thorough washing.

“’Yung gulay tsaka prutas na nalagyan ng abo basta hugasan lang ng mahusay ‘yun at linisin, puwede po kainin ‘yun,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said at a Palace press briefing on Wednesday.

He said even plants cultivated in farms affected by the ashfall brought about by the Taal Volcano eruption are also safe for consumption as long as these are thoroughly washed with water.

Ashfall from Taal volcano blanketed crops and livestock in surrounding areas since its eruption began on Sunday.

The Department of Agriculture earlier reported that damage to crops and livestock has reached more than P500 million.

Meanwhile, Domingo advised the public to be cautious and refrain from eating fish caught in Taal lake and other bodies of water affected by the Taal eruption as these may contain toxins that can have harmful effects on human health.

“Might as well be cautious because we know that toxic substances have been thrown out of the volcano and na-dissolve ‘yan sa tubig,” he said.

Taal Volcano spewed ash on Sunday that sent thousands of residents scrambling for safety.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has reiterated that no one should stay in the Taal Volcano island and other nearby areas susceptible to volcano tsunami, base surge, and ballistic projectiles as a result of the eruption.

Phivolcs said that Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means that a hazardous eruption is possible within hours to days.

Confirmed polio cases in PH climb to 16 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said it recorded four more confirmed cases of polio, bringing to 16 the total number of cases since the outbreak was declared in September 2019.

The DOH said two of the new cases were from Maguindanao – both males, two and three years old, as reported by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The third case is a two-year-old boy from Sultan Kudarat while the fourth case is a three-year-old boy from Quezon City.

The children were said to have manifested with fever, diarrhea, muscle pain, asymmetric ascending paralysis and weakness of extremities.

In light of this, the DOH reiterated its call for parents to have their children vaccinated against the disease through its Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) campaign.

The department said the campaign’s succeeding rounds are scheduled from January 20 to February 2 in all regions of Mindanao, and from January 27 to February 7 in the National Capital Region.

“I urge all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the coming SPKP campaign rounds scheduled in your respective areas. Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and bakunators,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

“Additional polio doses can provide additional protection to your children. There is no overdose with the oral polio vaccine,” he added.

In September 2019, the department confirmed the re-emergence of the disease in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

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