Press Release
October 27, 2011

Gov't Must Prioritize the Needs of Children in Disasters - Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda today called on the government to reduce the risks posed by disasters on children by ensuring that disaster preparedness programs give utmost attention to the needs of young citizens.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the statement as she noted that an estimated 800,000children are already affected by the flood crisis in Thailand.

"Children are more vulnerable to disasters not only because of the dangers that come with these occurrences but also due to the increased exposure to climate-sensitive diseases. For instance, flooding increases the possibility of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as dengue, diarrhea and e-coli," she explained.

The United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia and the Pacific said that the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction showed that at least 66 million children are affected by disasters each year.

In fact, disasters resulted in increased incidences of diarrhea in children under five years of age in Bolivia, more malnourished children under the age of three in Nepal, and increased infant mortality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, an earlier report, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2010, revealed that about 350,000 deaths every year are caused by major diseases and health disorders related to climate change. This number can climb up to 800,000 deaths per year by the year 2030 if the necessary measures on climate change adaptation are not taken.

"During disasters, priority attention must be given to the needs of children who are susceptible to diseases. There should be greater effort in the prevention and control of climate-related diseases, and in the enhancement of the Department of Health's capacity for early warning for disease outbreaks," the Senator pointed out.

"Furthermore, the grim images of damaged houses or a devastated community may cause stress or trauma to the minds of young citizens. It would help if our evacuation centers are made attractive, comfortable and close to the feeling of being home. In our efforts to reduce disaster risks, it is essential that we consider the direct and indirect effects of disasters and climate change on children," Legarda concluded.

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