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22 Dec 2011 04:35 AM

Government, humanitarian agencies respond to flooding in Philippines, warn of disease threat


"Philippine authorities are warning of the spread of diseases in cramped evacuation centers, days after flash floods hit the southern Philippines and claimed more than a thousand lives," ABC/Asia Pacific News reports, noting that flooding also has affected the country's northern provinces, displacing at least 50,000 people (Escalante, 12/20). Tropical Storm Washi "hit the main southern island of Mindanao over the weekend, bringing heavy rains, flash floods and overflowing rivers that swept whole coastal villages away," forcing 44,000 people to evacuate the area, Agence France-Presse/Inquirer News writes (Celis, 12/21). Officials say hundreds of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and the U.N. has stepped up its efforts in the area, the U.N. News Centre reports (12/20).

Philippines Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said crowded conditions in evacuation centers "could lead to outbreaks of leptospirosis, diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid fever and dysentery, with children and pregnant women the most vulnerable," according to AFP (12/21). WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities could increase the risk of such diseases, and noted the WHO is working to establish a disease surveillance system and plans to send mosquito nets to the centers to help prevent malaria and dengue, which are endemic in the area, the U.N. News Centre reports (12/20).

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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