Manila, Philippines – As several areas in Samar are afflicted with cases of diarrhea outbreaks, the Department of Health (DOH) stresses that safe drinking water, proper sanitation and personal hygiene are the primary prevention measures against diarrhea.

Increasing diarrhea cases from some municipalities of Samar province were reported to DOH. From April 1, 2016 to June 25, 2016 a total of 887 suspected diarrhea cases were reported in Catbalogan City, Samar.The top three barangays with highest number of cases were Bunuanan (138 out of 887), Canlapwas (86 cases) and Mercedes (75 cases). Majority of cases were females (58%). The most (559, 63%)affected age group belong to 1 to 4 years old. A total of eight deaths were reported.The said deaths are due to other associated illnesses acquired by the patient like pneumonia, severe dehydration, malnutrition and cardio-respiratory arrest.

“At this point, reported cases are readily treated by different hospitals in the said areas. Aside from the distribution of medicines and aquatabs or water disinfectant tablets, dissemination of information on the importance of safe water, proper hygiene, and sanitation are strengthened in the communities.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin.

Meanwhile, cases of elevated arsenic have been noted in parts of Central Luzon. As of June 2016, a total of 123 cases were reported to DOH. Said cases have undergone consultations and have been receiving medical attention. The source of the disease is from the contaminated water source in the affected areas.

DOH together with Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Local Waterworks Utilities Administration (LWUA), and the concerned local government units work hand in hand to monitor water sources in concerned areas. Currently, bottled drinking waters are given to the communities by the local government units to avoid further cases of arsenicosis. Local health workers are initiating medical screening in communities to detect early cases of arsenicosis.

The health chief added that DOH and The Netherlands Embassy in Manila through the Dutch Risk Reduction Team agreed to work closely in order to address the arsenic contamination in Central Luzon. This collaboration aims to screen the scope of arsenic toxicity in Central Luzon, design of an improved water supply system, and implementation of water quality improvement programme.

“We always emphasize the importance of cleanliness not just to ourselves but also to our surroundings in order to prevent illnesses. These diseases may be prevented at no cost if we start proper hygiene and sanitation in our homes. Let us be cautious, and adhere to the reminders given by the DOH.” Garin concluded.