Manila, Philippines (10th August, 2012) – The lack of latrines and clean water in cramped evacuation centres in Metro Manila and neighbouring provinces puts hundreds of thousands of children at risk of diseases, Save the Children warns.
“We have seen multiple cases of diarrhoea, flu and skin rash in evacuation centres, all of which can spread very quickly if people do not have good hygiene practices, especially among children,” said Anna Lindenfors, country director for Save the Children in the Philippines. “Nearly 300,000 people are packed into less than 500 centres, living under precarious conditions. Poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water and health services are all aggravating factors.”
To improve the hygiene conditions in evacuation centres, Save the Children has begun relief distributions in the National Capital Region and Laguna, and will reach 1,500 families with initial aid packages, including cooking utensils and cleaning items by the end of the week. The aid agency is also working to distribute 2,500 pre-made hygiene packages, with items including soap, shampoo and other toiletries.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health issued a warning on the potential outbreak of leptospirosis in and near the affected areas, and have begun handing out preventative medicine to displaced people. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by contact with the faeces or urine of rats.
“The government has been vigilant about protecting the public from any disease outbreaks, but sanitation conditions need to improve quickly in order to protect children in the weeks ahead,” said Anna Lindenfors. “Young infants in particular need clean and sanitary conditions as their immune systems are still weak, making them especially vulnerable to external conditions.”
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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