Press Release
April 16, 2011

IPs Die of Complications Due to Cholera; Loren Urges Swift Action by DOH

As the death toll rises from the cholera outbreak in Palawan, Senator Loren Legarda urged the Department of Health (DOH) to act swiftly by intensifying effective disease surveillance, control and prevention measures.

Legarda, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Communities, lamented that majority of those affected were children from the indigenous group of the Palaw-an.

"Cholera is a disease that is preventable and can easily be treated. It did not have to lead to the morbidity of a significant number of people. This is an indication of the lack of proper medical services and health education being provided to our indigenous communities," she explained.

The DOH declared a cholera outbreak in the entire town of Bataraza, Palawan, when 17 out of its 22 barangays showed cases of diarrhea, a symptom of cholera, along with severe stomach pains and vomiting. In monitoring at least 430 cases of diarrhea in the province, a majority of the patients tested positive for vibrio cholera, a bacterium which causes cholera in humans.

As of April 13, the DOH has revealed that a total of 19 people have been killed by the disease from March 1 to April 12, 2011. Of this number, at least 7 out of 10 were children under 5 years old.

Legarda urged the DOH to act swiftly in pointing out the exact source of the disease.

"These numbers are alarming. What is more painful is that the deaths could have been prevented if early detection, control and remedial measures were immediately placed."

The Senator also stressed the importance of having health workers in every barangay in the country to ensure that even those in far-flung communities can avail of proper medical attention in their respective localities.

"Our government must address this concern. We have a proposed measure filed in the Senate (Senate Bill 1384) that seeks to mandate the Department of Health to provide at least one health worker in every barangay," she said.

"Our indigenous brothers and sisters who live in far-flung areas need to have access to medical services. They also need to be informed of proper sanitation practices and emergency response," Legarda concluded.

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