DOH says 59 refugees from Marawi have died of various illness

LEGAZPI CITY — Some 59 refugees from Marawi City have died due to various illnesses; 19 died inside designated evacuation camps while the remaining 40 died outside the camps, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said here on Thursday.

She emphasized that the victims died not because they were hit by bullets and bombs during the crisis but because of sickness.

“The 40 evacuees staying outside the evacuation centers died of dehydration,” said Ubial who arrived in this city today for the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day celebration.

She said during the press conference at Daguinsin Hall at the Department of Health-Bicol (DOH-5) office in this city that the 19 death cases at the evacuation centers were of people who were already suffering from illnesses when they were brought to the various camps.

Ubial said some of the evacuees suffering from kidney disease are undergoing dialysis while the others who died of cancer and heart ailments were able to undergo treatment at a government hospital.

Ubial said DOH set up 68 evacuation centers for the 20,627 persons or 4,249 families who fled Marawi City.

She said the centers were established in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, particularly in Cagayan De Oro City, and in Lanao del Sur where the majority of the refugees are being housed.

Ubial said the common illnesses reported included acute gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea and skin diseases.

She said these diseases were widespread due to the cramped situation inside the camps.

Ubial, quoting DOH evacuation data, said that of the 280,581 people who fled Marawi because of the crisis, only 20,627 persons are housed in various evacuation camps while the 280,581 evacuees are living with either relatives or friends.

She said doctors and health workers are doing their daily rounds to check on those evacuees inside the camps who need medical attention.

“The thousands of evacuees staying outside the evacuation camps are our major health concern in terms of how fast our physicians and health workers can attend to them,” she added.

Ubial said she has directed the DOH in Mindanao to launch a campaign advising Marawi evacuees staying outside the shelter to immediately visit the barangay, town and city health centers and hospitals for free medicines, treatment and confinement should they become sick.

She said there are currently 1,290 patients, who were referred to the various hospitals, 178 whom were admitted, 467 treated as out-patient while the rest were given medical attention and sent home. MAR ARGUELLES/PNA –