KIDAPAWAN CITY — With most evacuees living in open tents and crowded areas, a number of children in the village of Balabag have become sick.
Sheryl Palcia said her one-year-old child has had chickenpox since the first major earthquake hit Mindanao last Oct. 16.
“She has chickenpox, cough and sometimes she vomits,” Palcia said. However, it was only on Sunday morning, during a medical mission, that she learned it was chickenpox.
She was advised to keep her child in a separate tent so the other children won’t contract the disease.
Meanwhile, Josemie Umpan’s two daughters have had cough, colds and fever for the last four days. Umpan herself has been nursing cough and colds since they transferred to the evacuation site in Balabag two weeks ago.
“The tarp we’re using as shelter is not enough so it gets too cold at night. That’s why we’ve been sick,” she said.
Midwife Jinky Maceda said they also have a couple of children who experienced diarrhea because of the lack of potable water during the first few days that they set camp.
On Sunday morning, Palcia and Umpan brought their children to the medical mission organized by the city health office.
Because of lack of resources like paper after the quake, blood pressure and pulse rates were written by the health workers on the arms of the patients.
Dr. Ted Calica, assistant city health officer of Kidapawan, said most of the children had respiratory tract infections.
“They are in the evacuation center, in the tents, exposed to elements. The climate here is colder so it’s expected that they will get sick because of this,” he said.
Calica said they already instructed local health workers to isolate children with chickenpox.
“We need to secure the evacuation center. And then provide water and sanitation. Personal hygiene is important,” he said.
Calica admitted that the area of the earthquake is too wide for them, that is why they need the help of volunteer doctors.
Among those who volunteered on Sunday was Dr. Pauline Villarin-Vargas.
“It’s important (to volunteer) because there are not a lot of doctors and there are so many people affected by the earthquake. We need to help each other,” she said. “It is a part of our job to help.”
Villarin-Vargas said that living in crowded evacuation areas makes it faster to spread respiratory infections.
Both Calica and Villarin-Vargas called for more doctors to volunteer and for groups to donate medicine as crowded evacuation sites contribute to the spread of disease.
Maceda also appealed for donations of vitamins and tarps so families can better secure their temporary shelters from the rains.