MANILA – At least 40 residents displaced by the ongoing siege in Marawi City have died of various illnesses, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said Monday.
In a news conference in Malacañang, Ubial said some of the displaced residents died of acute gastroenteritis, pneumonia, sepsis, and heart-related diseases.
She, however, noted that all the displaced residents who died stayed at the homes of their friends and relatives.
Ubial added that 16,411 patients were admitted or treated in health facilities both government and private free of charge, while there were 882 patients referred for treatment from the evacuation centers to hospitals.
The nearly two-month siege in Marawi City has forced 438,701 people to flee their homes and take shelter in their friends and relatives, Ubial said. On the other hand, at least 26,991 residents are now staying in 87 evacuation centers.
The health secretary is calling for an end to the violence in Marawi, considered one of the most important Islamic cities in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, as displaced residents continue to suffer.
“The DOH is really hopeful and at the same time incessantly praying for peace in Marawi City. Let us continue to hold on to our vision that one day peace will once again reign in the city, that Marawi will stand up and be resilient against all forces of evil brought about by this senseless terrorism,” Ubial said.
Islamist extremists led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups laid siege on Marawi on May 23 in a bid to establish an Islamic State province in Philippines as part of a Southeast Asian caliphate.
Some 60 terrorists remain holed up in the city, defying the relentless aerial bomb attacks of government forces that have left parts of the once vibrant city in shambles.
Despite the protracted battle, Ubial stressed that the government continues to address the basic needs of residents in evacuation centers, such as potable water and food.
The DOH has allotted a total of P55.2 million cash assistance to both public and private hospitals while P30.4 million has been provided for logistics.
Even though the crisis has not yet ended, government is now preparing to rehabilitate the city. Ubial said, rebuilding efforts in the city would entail the creation of one health center per barangay, one polyclinic for every 100,000 people, one lying-in facility for every 50,000 population, and one hospital bed for every 800 population.