UP-Min eyes task force on health disasters in Mindanao

It is organized to impart some methods to forecast health disasters based on historical data using new research tools, said Rene Estremera of the UP-Min information office. But Estremera said they are looking at exploring the possibility of collaboration and integration of efforts by various government agencies and other stakeholders. He said they will assess at the end of the forum if the creation of a multi-agency task force or network in Mindanao is viable.

Estremera said they are looking at a body which will study, monitor, coordinate and focus actions on forecasting health disasters and emergencies.

The key to dealing with disasters — whether natural or man-made — is not to sound the alarm bell but to equip the people with appropriate knowledge to help foster a culture of preparedness among the public, said Allan Villanueva, project assistant.

Based on the tentative program as of July 12, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Barrameda, emergency and humanitarian action officer of the World Health Organization (WHO), will present a paper on "Global Health Emergencies with Local Implications."

Prof. Sean Fitzgerald, a UP -Min visiting lecturer from the University of Massachusetts, will discuss "Nature and Impact of Geohazards in Mindanao. Prof. Vicente Calag, who chairs UP-Min's Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science department, will present "GIS tool: Forecasting and Monitoring Disasters and Health Emergencies.”

Expected to give reactions to the presentations are Dr. Paulyn Ubial, Department of Health regional director in Southeastern Mindanao; Davao City Councilor Rene Lopez, a physician; and Engr. Luis Jacinto, Davao City director for planning.

There will be an open forum and drafting of resolutions towards the end of the forum.

The Office of the Civi l Defense in Southeastern Mindanao, in line with the celebration of disaster-preparedness month, told MindaNews earlier this month they are organizing local government units in capability-building so they could evaluate their communities' disaster hazards. The OCD said they will also aid communities in developing emergency response action appropriate for the local hazards identified.