DOH probes hazards of aerial spraying on workers

But Dr. Paulyn Jean P. Rosell-Ubial, DOH regional director for Southeastern Mindanao told MindaNews Friday that the study was not in any way prompted by the proposed ordinance in the City Council to ban aerial spraying in agricultural plantations but "as part of the services of the DOH".


Ubial said however, that the study would be piloted in Davao and manned by the environmental unit of the DOH regional office. The department would establish surveillance systems for occupational diseases such as those in banana plantations among workers in Davao City. She said the study would be conducted with the DOH's National Epistemology Center in Manila.


The study would review the medical records of employees of all banana firms in Southeastern Mindanao, based on their required annual medical check up with company doctors. The DOH would rely on the data at the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) as primary source of information.


Ubial said nobody has analyzed the data yet from these mandatory annual medical check up though these have been available in the DOLE all the time.


The study would last for six months and it was started this month. Ubial said the DOH here would propose a survey next year on both aerial and ground spraying.


Both the proponents and opponents to a City Council proposal to ban aerial spraying in agricultural plantations have suggested that the DOH should conduct its own study on the effects of spraying in the workers and communities around these plantations. 


Ubial said the project was separate from the one conducted by the City Planning and Development Office, which Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has directed on October 1 to conduct a study, and asking the City Council also to give him 10 days to present the result of that study.


City Planning Chief, Engr. Mario Luis Jacinto told reporters on Thursday that the city's study was not yet done. Jacinto said the study was intended to look for "hard evidence" on alleged hazards of aerial spraying and the data was still not submitted by the City Health Office.