ZAMBOANGA -- The number of displaced persons who died at the Zamboanga grandstand and the RT Lim Boulevard evacuation centers has reached 84, according to the City Health Office.
City Health Officer Dr. Rodel Agbulos said there were 10 deaths reported from February 3 to 9 at the evacuation centers due to pneumonia and gastro-enteritis, which are affecting mostly children 5 years old and below.
The other half who died, Agbulos said, were senior citizens.
He said evacuees are now feeling rapid changes in temperature at night, causing them to have low resistance to sickness and infections.
Agbulos has met with camp managers of various evacuation centers to solicit help in enforcing cleanliness and sanitation in the temporary shelters. They noted that some of the evacuees do not even know about proper hand washing.
Over 3,000 families are still staying at the Sports Complex, which is the biggest evacuation center in the city, following the armed encounter between government troops and members of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction in September last year.
Almost 1,000 families mostly belonging to Sama-Badjao people are staying along the shoreline in RT LIm Boulevard. Seven schools are also still being occupied by the IDPs.
Agbulos is urging evacuees to maintain cleanliness in their surroundings, reiterating his call to the parents to immediately bring their children to health stations at the first sign of sickness.
"Early consultation is early management," Agbulos said.
The city government has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zamboanga City Medical Center that should evacuees need to be admitted at the hospital, they should be accepted for admission immediately.
"Medicines are free," Agbulos added.
The official said it is important for the evacuees to transfer to transitory sites of the government the soonest possible time.
"We need to decongest the evacuation centers," Agbulos said, adding that the government hopes to move and clear RT Lim Boulevard of the presence of the MNLF by the end of February.