Diarrhea outbreak claims 5 more lives in Quezon’s Dumagat community
LUCENA CITY — The death toll in the diarrhea outbreak among the Dumagat tribes in the Quezon and Rizal provinces’ section of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges rose to nine after five more were reported Monday.
In a phone interview, Mayor Eliseo Ruzol Sr. of General Nakar town in Quezon said the latest fatalities were from the mountain village of Lumutan.
Ruzol said he had deployed a medical team to address the situation in the remote area, adding that the deaths could have been avoided if they had been brought to the hospital immediately.
The local government had built a public toilet in the village, but most of the villagers still preferred to defecate anywhere, the mayor said.
“During the past strong rains, their feces were washed toward their source of drinking water,” the mayor lamented.
Quezon Gov. Angelina Tan said she would coordinate with the Southern Luzon Command based in Camp Nakar in this city to airlift a medical team to Lumutan.
“Our IPHO (Integrated Provincial Health Office) team will go there tomorrow (Tuesday),” Tan said in her message during the Monday flag-raising program.
Ruzol said the team of healthcare workers would bring medicine, safe potable water, and water purifiers to residents of the affected village.
He said Lumutan, which has a population of 15 tribal families, could be reached from General Nakar via Tanay, Rizal.
Gina Cambronero, program coordinator of Sandiwa, a network of advocates for national minorities, said a pregnant Dumagat native in Tanay, who is suffering from diarrhea had to submit herself to an emergency operation.
“Her baby died in her womb due to alleged poisoning,” she said.
On Sunday, Cambronero reported the deaths of four Dumagat tribesmen in Sitio Nayon-Ilaya in Barangay Sta. Inez in Tanay, which adjoins Lumutan.
She said there were other patients in different hospitals, while more than a hundred tribesmen were also sick and remained in their mountain communities.
On its Facebook page, the local government of Tanay posted that it dispatched a medical team to Sta. Inez on Saturday.
The team distributed medicine, oral rehydration solutions, bottled water, and relief goods to the tribal community.
Dr. Amor Dulce Rivera of Tanay health center, in a television interview, reported that they traced the ailment among the IP community to the spring water contaminated with feces.
“The government should act fast. Many in our tribe are now in panic. Most want to leave the village for easy access to hospitals just in case they get sick,” Memar Doroteo, 25, a Dumagat native in Tanay, said in a phone interview Monday morning.
Doroteo, a mother of a 1-year-old boy, noted that their traditional herbal medicine could no longer cure the illness.
“In just 24 hours, the condition of the sick gets worse and needs immediate hospitalization,” she said from her home in Barangay Sampaloc, a three-hour jeepney ride from Sta. Inez on a mountain trail.
Her house has already served as an evacuation center for three families from Sta. Inez.
“One of them is my aunt, who rushed her kid to the hospital this morning after the boy had been showing diarrhea symptoms,” she said.
Cambronero said Sandiwa had brought medicine, rice, and other food items to Sta Inez.
“We also gave cash aid to some tribesmen who badly needed financial assistance,” she said.
She said Sandiwa has been seeking coordination with the Department of Health in the Calabarzon region to send medical workers to address the outbreak. INQ
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