ON TARGET

Epidemic might break out in Tacloban

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If the piles of garbage and bodies still buried in the rubble and garbage are not collected, there might soon be an epidemic in Tacloban City and other places that were battered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

The streets were still littered with uncollected garbage and the smell of dead bodies was everywhere on Nov. 25-27, more than two weeks after the supertyphoon.

On those dates, a 49-member medical mission from Manila that I organized gave free consultations, distributed medicines and even cooked food for some victims.

The stench of garbage and dead bodies lingered when my first medical mission left the city on Nov. 13 after a three-day stint.

It remained two weeks after my second medical mission returned to the city, only this time it was much worse.

As this newspaper is supposed to be read at the breakfast table, I wouldn’t go any further in describing the olfactory and visual experience members of the second medical mission went through in Tacloban City and Tanauan, Palo and San Miguel towns.

The government should clean up the mess left by Yolanda, otherwise those who survived the strongest storm ever recorded would die of an epidemic like cholera.

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More people would die if there is no mass immunization of the survivors for tetanus and leptospirosis.

Tetanus and leptospirosis are both deadly.

Tetanus is acquired through rusty objects like nails, wood splinters or galvanized iron that pierce the skin, causing wounds.

Many of these objects are found in the rubble of fallen buildings all over Eastern Visayas.

Leptospirosis, on the other hand, is acquired when someone with an open wound wades in waters mixed with rat urine.

Rats feast on uncollected garbage in the streets of Tacloban City and other areas.

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My 49-member medical mission brought 1,750 vials of antitetanus and thousands of antileptospirosis capsules.

Many people who went to our makeshift clinics were scared of injections, so the doctors had to tell each patient the benefits of having antitetanus immunization through an injection.

We didn’t have any problem giving away antileptospirosis capsules, but our doctors still had to inform people about the deadly disease.

We were doing what doctors of the Department of Health should be doing.

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When we set up a clinic at the Air Force camp in the Tacloban City airport, many soldiers and policemen took advantage of our antitetanus injections.

They knew that they would be protected from deadly illness for more than a year as a result of the antitetanus injection.

Even some employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) went to our clinic to be injected.

They were also given antileptospirosis capsules.

The government should have given soldiers and civil service workers antitetanus injections and antileptospirosis capsules before deploying them to the Eastern Visayas.

I saw for myself how the government neglects its frontline workers who expose themselves to diseases in calamity areas.

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When I was in Tacloban City on Nov. 25-27, there were still reports of looting even if soldiers and policemen were posted practically on every street corner.

This, despite the fact that there was a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Looters and other street criminals in Tacloban City will continue to defy the law if harsh action is not taken against them.

I know of a businessman who shot dead two persons who tried to break into his store at the height of the looting rampage on Nov 9 and 10.

The rest of the looters scampered for dear life.

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