Serious public health issues in earthquake-hit areas of Bohol, Philippines

Manila, Philippines, 19 October 2013 – International humanitarian organization Oxfam says that there are serious public health concerns that need to be immediately addressed.  Sagbayan Municipality, and neighboring areas that were closest to the epicenter of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit the Visayas region October 15, are the worst affected with the greatest number of people living without adequate quantities of safe water and sanitation facilities.

“Today we heard of cases of diarrhea, and if we are to prevent its spread and that of other water-borne diseases, affected areas will need guaranteed access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities,” says Justin Morgan, Oxfam Country Director for the Philippines. Together with Morgan, Oxfam dispatched its humanitarian team to assess water, sanitation and hygiene conditions, as well as livelihoods that have been seriously affected, in the municipalities of Sagbayan, San Isidro, Calape, Tubigon, Clarin and Catigbian.

“While power has been restored in most areas, water is still not running throughout. There has also been minimal assessment of the damage to water infrastructure, and so Oxfam is recommending that water testing is carried out on all water systems prior to recommencing operation to ensure that contaminated water is not distributed.”  Morgan added.

“We need medicines for diarrhea and other medical supplies,” admitted Dr. RJ Demandante, municipal health officer of Clarin. Children below five years old are among those now suffering from diarrhea. Oxfam has provided a several hundred bottles of water treatment solution to the Municipal Health Offices in Clarin and Sagbayan where cases of diarrhea have been reported.

In other areas markets are still not fully operational, making food availability a major challenge.  Fishing, which is a main source of livelihood in the western side of the island, has been severely affected, as boats and fishing gears have also been destroyed by the earthquake.

As of 6 am this morning, the NDRRMC has put the number of casualties at 175. At least 1,846 aftershocks have been recorded since the earthquake hit on October 15.

Notes to editors

Contact information

Justin Morgan, Oxfam Country Director, + 63908-891-7786 (in Bohol)
Jed Alegado, Media & Communications Officer, +63928-504-2911 (in Manila)

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