MANILA, Philippines—This summer, the public should watch out for a
number of “potential health risks” brought about by the onset of the
dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Health
(DoH) said on Tuesday.
In a joint advisory, the DoH National Center for Health Promotion
and the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control warned
against diseases like diarrhea, cholera, paralytic shellfish poisoning,
heat stroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion.
Other health risks include skin diseases caused by high
temperatures, such as measles, chicken pox, flu, sore eyes, sunburn and
Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said: “The extremely hot weather carries with it its own effects on health.”
Some of the diseases could be caused by high temperatures (like heat
stroke, cramps and hypertension) and red tide blooms (shellfish
poisoning), Cabral noted.
"For many Filipinos, summer is a time for fun and festivities, but
they must also remember to put their health on top of their
priorities,” Cabral said.
She advised the public to “drink more fluids, conserve water and
protect it from contamination, avoid strenuous physical activities,
wear light clothing, and get updates on shellfish bans.”
The DOH was prompted to issue the health advisory “as the country
begins to feel the effects of El Niño, which is characterized by
extreme climatic conditions—either extreme temperature rise with a
little rainfall or the opposite extreme which is heavy rainfall.”
Meanwhile, the DOH's National Epidemiology Center (NEC) reported
that a total of 669 measles cases were admitted to an undisclosed
number of hospitals nationwide between Jan. 1 and Feb. 13 this year.
“This was 70 percent higher compared to the same period in 2009 when
there were 394 cases reported. One died compared to two deaths in
2009,” the NEC said.
According to NEC, most of the reported measles cases came from the
following regions: Metro Manila, 306; Western Visayas, 68; Central
Luzon, 60; Southern Tagalog, 57; and Bicol, 47.
In Manila, the measles-affected areas include several barangay
(villages) in Quiapo, Tondo and San Miguel. Measles cases were also
reported in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and Parañaque City.
“Majority of the cases (nationwide) were children aged one to four
years. They were mostly male. Most of the cases had no history of
measles immunization,” the NEC added.