MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said unfiltered water may have caused most of the deaths among the evacuees from Marawi City.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said the 40 evacuees who died were staying at the homes of their friends and relatives in nearby towns or cities, and not in the evacuation centers.
"Ang pinaka-number one pong cause [of death] is -- nasa 25% -- acute gastroenteritis na dahil sa tubig at kalinisan," she told DZMM on Tuesday.
Ubial said they have received reports that the displaced residents, both in evacuation centers and at home, are getting water from Lake Lanao.
This is why, she said, they earlier distributed filters and disinfecting solutions among evacuees so they can have safe water to drink.
"Napag-alaman po natin na evacuation centers at kabahayan, sa Lake Lanao po kinukuha ang tubig pero ang advise na i-disinfect nila with aquatap o disinfecting solution," she said.
The problem is, the health secretary explained, they are having difficulty in monitoring the situation of the home-based evacuees, which numbers to over 400,000.
Ubial said they are now coordinating with the officials of barangays accommodating displaced Marawi residents to remind the evacuees to filter and disinfect their water before drinking.
The health department said 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.
Meanwhile, she said The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is now setting up temporary shelters, with individual houses for each family for the evacuees.