DOH vows to prioritize health, safety of Mayon evacuees
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday said that it would prioritize the safety of residents affected by Mayon Volcano’s unrest as it readies its emergency response teams in coordination with concerned agencies and local government units (LGUs) in Albay province.
Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said that the agency would specifically address the health and nutritional-related needs of the evacuees, adding that hygiene and medicine kits, as well as face masks, were already stocked in 18 designated areas of evacuations.
“[We already] coordinated with Bicol Medical Center for volcano related emergencies lalo na yung inhaled gases or burns ‘pag pumutok man ang bulkan […] May medical teams tayo na nagmula dyan sa hospital at Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center na nagpunta na sa standby mode,” Herbosa said in a media forum.
(We already coordinated with Bicol Medical Center for volcano-related emergencies, especially in cases of inhaled gases or burns when the volcano erupts. We have medical teams that also came from Bicol Medical Center and Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center, which have gone into standby mode.)
On the other hand, Herbosa said that the DOH has already tapped concerned LGUs and reiterated their guidelines for addressing nutrition-related problems during emergencies and disasters.
He said that the health agency also coordinated with the provincial health office of Albay, particularly the cities of Ligao and Tabaco, to implement nutrition-related activities.
“Nagprocure na tayo ng micronutrient powder, yung lipid nutrient supplement paste small quantity — ito yung mga pang disaster and for pregnant and lactating women,” Herbosa explained, adding that they are also eyeing the establishment of breastfeeding stations and centralized kitchens outside evacuation rooms.
(We have already procured a micronutrient powder or the lipid nutrient supplement paste in small quantities — these are for pregnant and lactating women during disasters.)
Regarding logistical support, the DOH chief said that P303,000 worth of logistics were mobilized in affected LGUs, and a total of P1.8 million were allocated as a contingency fund.
Herbosa said the agency is monitoring illnesses associated with Mayon’s unrest. So far, he said its local health systems have been able to manage outpatient cases or those who do not need any prescription.
Earlier, DOH said that short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and ashfall might harm the respiratory system and make breathing difficult, and those with asthma, particularly children, are sensitive to these effects.
Other symptoms of exposure include skin irritation, eye irritation, mucus secretion, and aggravated bronchitis, while prolonged exposure may cause inflammation and irritation of the respiratory system.
“Remember there is an concomitant health risk by being close to the eruption because of inhaling SO2 gas or the particulate matter ng mga ashfall kailangan well protected at naka-N95 mask and better lumayo na lang at wag manood [Mayon Volcano] sa malapit na areas,” he advised locals.
(Remember, there is an accompanying health risk by being close to the eruption because of inhaling SO2 gas or the particulate matter of the ashfall. Locals must be well protected and wear an N95 mask or better stay away and don’t watch [Mayon Volcano] in the nearby areas.)
Aside from wearing masks, he also advised residents and individuals in evacuation centers to observe minimum health protocols to prevent the spread of other airborne diseases, such as COVID-19, among others.