By Bernadette Parco, Chris Ligan Cebu Daily News First Posted 02:48pm (Mla time) 05/31/2007
CEBU, Philippines—With school opening in just a few days and the rainy season just around the corner, the health department is urging parents to take steps to protect their children from diseases.
Rennan Cimafranca, epidemiological nurse of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), yesterday said the rains usually bring with it many diseases, such as influenza and leptospirosis.
He urged the liberal intake of vitamin supplements to raise resistance levels, and to always be ready with protective gear, such as umbrellas and rain coats.
Cimafranca, assigned to the DOH-7’s Regional Epidemiological Unit (RESU), said the frequent change in weather that comes with the rainy season usually render people susceptible to diseases.
The RESU notes an increase in the number of patients suffering from coughs, colds and fever during the rainy season.
Leptospirosis is also commonly reported, he said. The disease, commonly found in the urine of animals, is transmitted to humans by ingestion or contact with contaminated water.
The disease causes jaundice, nephritis, and the inflamation of the spleen. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, chills, aching muscles and vomiting.
Cimafranca said unattended cases could worsen and lead to meningitis, as well as respiratory and renal disease.
People who exhibit symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, Cimafranca said.
“The disease is common in places with poor sanitary conditions and affects people who walk around barefoot and wade in flood waters,” said Cimafranca.
This fact does not escape some informal settlers.
Gil Vega, operations officer of the Squatter Prevention, Encroachment and Elimination Division (Speed) of the Cebu City yesterday said that several informal settlers living along flood-prone areas and drainage canals in barangay Duljo-Fatima had voluntarily demolished their shanties after being urged by the city government to do so.
Vega said the actions of the affected residents in sitios Bohol and Sto. Niño surprised Speed personnel, who were expecting owners of shanties targeted for demolition to put up a resistance as with most demolition operations the agency had conducted in the past.
“We couldn’t believe they themselves destroyed their own illegal structures. We usually have a hard time carrying out a demolition,” Vega said.
Vega said he learned that it was even the informal settlers who asked barangay officials to tell Speed to help carry out a demolition.
The residents complained that stagnant water in the drainage system near their homes had caused skin diseases in children and served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Some residents admitted that it was their own structures that hampered the flow of drainage, causing water to stagnate.
Residents also feared being swept away by floods as water levels had risen on several occasions since rains started to get more frequent two weeks ago.
Most of the structures demolished were extensions of larger shanties – restrooms, kitchens, and containment for pigs and chickens.
More than 20 structures were demolished by their owners yesterday, with the help of Speed.