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Stricter sanitation measures in evacuation centers sought

MANILA, Philippines - A local waste and pollution watchdog yesterday urged the government and volunteer organizations helping in massive relief efforts to implement stricter hygiene and sanitation measures in the different evacuation centers in the areas affected by tropical storm “Ondoy.”

The EcoWaste Coalition also warned against the emergence of “post-storm” diseases in temporary shelters amid the increasing amount of garbage and inadequate amenities in evacuation centers.

“The extremely congested educational and sports facilities providing refuge to thousands of flood survivors are becoming breeding grounds for post-storm diseases due to garbage and inadequate amenities,” said Elsie Brandes de Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We appeal to all local officials to designate enough number of government personnel who will look after the health and hygiene needs of the evacuees,” she said.

De Veyra urged local authorities to train and mobilize the evacuees on proper segregation of waste.

“It will really help if the evacuees themselves can form committees to oversee their sanitation and other needs in a systematic and healthy way,” De Veyra said.

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The group cited the report of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) that there are 83,493 families, comprising of 419,333 persons all cramped in 526 evacuation centers.

Out of the 526 evacuation centers, 305 are in Region IV-A; 174 in Metro Manila; 45 in Region III; and 1 each in Region XII and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

EcoWaste said there had been complaints of lack of toilets and filthy evacuation centers.

The group said most evacuation centers have only one to two toilets servicing hundreds of evacuees.

EcoWaste also echoed the warning by the Department of Health (DOH) that the cramped and unhygienic conditions in evacuation centers can trigger health problems.

“The ecological management of discards is one way of preventing the outbreak of diseases in evacuation centers, and we hope that the authorities can allocate the necessary resources to help evacuees properly deal with their discards,” the group pointed out.

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