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Leyte town’s LGU addresses schistosomiasis spread threat

Miriam Garcia Desacada (The Freeman) - November 14, 2015 - 9:00am

PALO, LEYTE, Philippines — The local government of this town in Leyte had rushed up measures to avert the spread of schistosomiasis disease among residents in 25 barangays.

This came after the findings of a recent study of the Ateneo College of Public Health showed that two out of 10 residents have been afflicted with schistosomiasis, which had been deemed as “endemic” to the town.

Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia or snail fever, is a disease caused by parasitic worms that may infect the urinary tract of the intestines of the patient. An infected person will develop symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, or blood in the urine, which if left untreated could cause damage to liver, kidney and bladder.

Health authorities said the disease is spread by contact with water contaminated with parasites from infected snails. It is also common among children who are more likely to play in contaminated water, they said.

After getting the Ateneo findings, Mayor Remedios “Matin” Petilla, with the help of health experts and those from the international non-government organizations, ordered for the implementation of proactive measures that would stop the disease right from its source.

Petilla launched the septage management project, headed by its consultant Mark Morallos, to address the effect of a series of floodings in the town over the past years, especially during Yolanda.

Volunteers of Oxfam International, an organization campaigning to address poverty in underdeveloped countries worldwide, and the Catholic Relief Services had earlier committed to make the septage management project in Palo sustainable. Oxfam said it would finance the construction of a water treatment facility that the LGU could pay back in five years.

The mayor told reporters the water treatment facility will be built on a 3,000-square meter lot, and periodically siphon off human wastes from septic tanks of houses and establishments, and then process these into solid waste for fertilizer and clean water.

Doctor Leo Calona said improper human waste disposal has been the root cause of water contamination, which in turn contributed to the rising number of people afflicted by schistosomiasis and other water-borne diseases.

Calona reported that 17,000 households of this town have no toilets with sealed tanks, most of which were destroyed by Yolanda’s flooding and storm surge that devastated the area in 2013.

Mayor Petilla, in a press conference, said the LGU are now constructing 10,000 toilets with sealed septic tanks. Half of these will be finished before the year ends, she said.

Petilla further appealed to her constituents to see the physicians at the town’s Schistosomiasis Hospital for check-up, in case they experience symptoms of the disease.

"Never hesistate to see our doctors and let us help one another to make this program successful. Remember we need a healthy community and healthy environment," she added.  (FREEMAN)

 

ATENEO COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES DOCTOR LEO CALONA MARK MORALLOS MAYOR PETILLA MAYOR REMEDIOS PETILLA SCHISTOSOMIASIS HOSPITAL VOLUNTEERS OF OXFAM INTERNATIONAL WATER YOLANDA
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