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Public warned against adverse effects of El Niño

February 24, 2010

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (DOH) YESTERDAY WARNED THE PUBLIC OF THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE PREVAILING EL NIÑO PHENOMENON.
“This extremely hot weather carries with it its own effects on health, so we came out with an advisory to inform the public about the potential health risks, and what they can do to safeguard themselves,” Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral announced.
Cabral has identified the potential health risks brought by the onset of El Niño as diarrhea, cholera and heat cramps.
She said skin diseases due to water scarcity, paralytic shellfish poisoning because of possible red tide bloom and heat stroke due to high temperature are also prevalent during the summer months.
To avoid these complications, Cabral urged the public to conserve water and protect the supply from contamination.
Cabral advised the public to drink more fluids, to avoid strenuous physical activities, wear light clothing and “listen to updates on shellfish bans.”
“The El Niño phenomenon is characterized by extreme climactic conditions – either extreme temperature rise with little rainfall, and the opposite extreme, unusually heavy rainfall,” she said.
Liberal Party (LP) senatorial candidate Dr. Martin Bautista also warned of the outbreak of weather-related diseases in the apparent failure of the government to provide health protection to Filipinos.
“Cases of measles are likely to intensify due to our weather conditions because hot weather allows bacteria to reproduce,” Bautista said.
He said the government should have improved the country’s healthcare system so Filipinos will be less vulnerable to diseases.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), on the other hand, called on the government to provide assistance to the farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon and make sure that funds would not be diverted to politics.
“There is fear that if the relief fund is already released, it might be used in politics. There should be a mechanism that if they would declare a state of calamity in an area, the fund should go to the affected farmers,” CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said.
He said the local officials should pinpoint the needs of their constituents while the national government should be releasing the mechanisms on how the provinces should use the money.
Pabillo noted earlier reports that President Arroyo is considering increasing the emergency funds for government programs to counter the effects of El Niño on the country’s supply of basic commodities. – With Evelyn Macairan, Dino Balabo