RECENT extreme weather disturbances have recently resulted in loss in lives and property in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), through the PHAPCares Foundation, earlier called on its members to again extend help to victims of massive floods in Metro Manila and affected Luzon provinces. Last week, the PHAPCares Foundation turned over P500,000 worth of medicines to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC). In coordination with our government partners, we intend to roll out a medicine donation caravan to assist the disaster victims.
The Medicine Cabinet has written about disease prevention and the role of medicines in times of natural calamities. Given the need to remind the public about these important matters, below are excerpts of past columns tackling health hazards and medicines during disasters.
Everyone will be affected by natural disasters but vulnerable groups include those living in coastal areas, highly dense cities, and mountainous regions.
Most exposed to health hazards during disasters are children, the elderly and those with medical conditions. People with traumatic experiences during a disaster should also be among the priorities.
While one could expect immediate help from the government, a person’s well-being is his primary responsibility even in times of disasters, NDRMMC Undersecretary Benito Ramos stressed.
Some of the practical steps to prevent illnesses during floodings is to keep in mind the common diseases during disasters.
The World Health Organization explained that waterborne diseases are most common during calamities. Diarrhea and hepatitis A and E have been linked to lack of access to potable water and poor sanitation. Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection often transmitted in floodwaters contaminated with the urine of rats, is another example of a waterborne disease. Apart from waterborne diseases, illnesses associated with overcrowding are also widespread during disasters.
During these major disasters, several thousand people are often displaced and are forced to take shelter in evacuation centers. Overcrowding, inadequate food, water and sanitation and poor access to health services usually characterize the conditions in these temporary shelters. These conditions usually give rise to communicable diseases, that if left untreated, could lead to an epidemic or worse, death.
Overcrowding in these temporary shelters expose evacuees to health hazards like poor ventilation, unsanitary conditions, as well as limited access to nutritious food and potable water. Under these poor conditions, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and skin infections or infestations can quickly spread among evacuees, particularly infants, children and the elderly.
Another practical measure is not to consume food that may have been damaged by the floods, or those that may have unusual color, odor and texture. A person must also correctly boil or disinfect water before drinking. Parents should also disinfect children’s toys that come in contact with floodwater.
As PHAPCares Foundation Managing Director Dr. Edgar Posadas said, the timely provision of quality medicines is crucial in saving the lives of the people in a country often devastated by calamities.
Realizing that people are physically and emotionally vulnerable to health risks during calamities, PHAP, through the PHAPCares Foundation, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the NDRRMC to renew the industry commitment to provide needed medicines during calamities. The aim of the "Gamot Agad Program" is to deliver essential and life-saving medicines to victims at the quickest possible time alongside the other equally crucial relief items such as food, water and blankets.
Under the MoA, industry members will provide the government P50 million, or P10 million annually, for the next five years worth of life-saving medicines for use during disasters and emergencies.
Dr. Posadas said that common medicines needed during these times are those that afford remedies to common ailments such as anti-pyretic/analgesic/anti-inflammatory medicines, decongestants and expectorants, anti-diarrheal/oral rehydrating solutions, antibiotics and topical medicines for wounds.
One common rule to remember is that medicines should be kept in a secure container that will shield them against the elements. One simple way is to put these medicines in a plastic container, tightly sealed to protect the medicines, especially from moisture and dirt. Aside from the medicines, some basic medications for wounds like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, betadine, cotton, scissors, dressing tape, gauze, topical antibiotics and elastic bandage are useful.
taken from: http://www.bworldonline.com/