(Manila, the Philippines) – Children caught in the Philippines floodwaters have little access to the health services that they urgently need, Save the Children says. According to the Philippines disaster agency, approximately 1.8 million children have now been affected by the floods.
“We cannot say for sure how many do not have access to healthcare,” said Anna Lindenfors, country director for Save the Children in the Philippines. “But in our assessments at evacuation centres in Metro Manila, National Capital Region and Laguna, many parents have expressed their concerns that the children do not have medicine for colds, fever, diarrhoea and skin rashes.”
In Caloocan City, Metro Manila, where Save the Children delivered hygiene items such as soaps, shampoo and other toiletries, families reported little help for their sick children.
“My husband has measles and so do some of my older children,” said 32-year-old Anafe Sinogbuhan, as she held her one-year-old baby, Tea May Abalus. She added that a doctor from the Department of Social Welfare and Development visited, “but did not have enough medicine to treat everyone.”
To help flood-affected families cope, Save the Children has delivered prepackaged household items such as sleeping mats and mosquito nets, as well as jerry cans of water and hygiene items like soaps, shampoo and other toiletries to 2,300 families. The children’s charity also aims to set up mobile health clinics, create spaces for children to play and learn in, as well as longer-term clean-up and livelihoods projects.
Anna Lindenfors said: “We know that diseases spread easily among children because they have close contact with other children when they play together, as well as weaker immune systems, and a lack of knowledge on good hygiene practices.”
“To prevent more children from falling sick, there is an urgent need for more health workers and medicine. The gap in health services coupled with poor sanitation, lack of clean water supplies and close living quarters, is definitely a dangerous combination.”
Save the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 and mounted a large-scale emergency response to typhoon Ketsana in 2009, and more recently, last year’s Typhoon Washi.
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