An Emergency Medical Response (EMR) was formed after the Provincial Health Office of Maguindanao reported the alarming case to the Regional Health Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The EMR headed by the Department of Health (DOH-ARMM) together with the regional, provincial and rural health units and district hospital staffs respond to the area on September 16, this year.
After conducting check-up and epidemiologic investigation to about 300 families in the area, 47 cases of diarrhea was confirmed during the consultation. “The response team collected stool specimen through rectal swabbing especially to children and conducted epidemiologic investigation to identify the source of infection,” Julie Villadolid, DOH-ARMM information officer said.
Dr. Tahir Sulaik, regional secretary of DOH-ARMM expresses distress on the on-going alarming increase of diarrhea cases to Tiruray tribe in the area which already reached to 72 cases from September 3-16. He stressed, “This is so alarming. For only half a month, the figure is already close to hundred.”
The response team checked the environmental sanitation especially the hygiene of the residents and found out that poor hygiene and lack of sanitation facilities contributed to occurrence of the disease. “The worst is, water sample the team collected also showed that the drinking water residents get from nearby wells is polluted and unsafe,” Dr. Sulaik underlined.
To continuously monitor the disease, the DOH-ARMM established a surveillance team. Two (2) staff of DOH stayed in the area to easily check and examine any resident who carries the diarrhea symptoms. The health secretary articulates recommendation through strengthening health education campaign ‘not only in Upper Tubuan but in adjacent areas especially on personal hygiene and sanitation.’
He added that ‘the local government should provide potable water and make road rehabilitation plans for the area to be accessible especially during disease outbursts.'
On the other hand, ARMM Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan meets the Regional Health Office staff to discuss further plans and immediate programs for the continuous monitoring of the disease outbreak in Barangay Lahangkob and probable spill-over to neighboring barangays.
The mission was supported by Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) of Maguindanao, Office of Civil Defense-ARMM, 6th Infantry Division and National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). (BPI-ARMM)