6 dead, 290 downed by amoebiasis in remote Malaybalay village

Dr. Dennis Sangalang, CHO chief, said the incidence of diarrhea cases last December and January in Sitio Candiisan, Barangay Canayan was blamed on contaminated drinking water or water from an unsanitary source. 

The CHO reported that residents fetch water from a spring with unprotected source and untreated with chlorine.

Councilor Clarita Carbajal told MindaNews Tuesday that even before the incident was reported, the city government had already approved P700,000 for a water project for the village. 

"But construction was hindered because the builders could not get through a portion of the road that was destroyed," she said. 

Sangalang said the number of cases is yet the biggest and first of its scale in almost a decade in the city. 

He said 90 percent of the city’s villages have access to safe potable water. But the remaining 10 percent have "doubtful sources of water, including that in Candiisan,” he said.

Candiisan is 10 kilometers from the center of Barangay Canayan, which is seven kilometers from Malaybalay’s poblacion.

The deaths, Sangalang said, came in a series along with 26 other reported cases of diarrhea during the period, based on hospital records.

He said the situation has been reported controlled as of January but they continue to monitor the situation in the village and neighboring areas. 

Sangalang said the series of deaths was discovered on December 22 when a resident, accompanied by a barangay health worker, reported the cases to the CHO. There it was discovered that many patients with similar cases from the village were admitted to local hospitals.

Sangalang has requested that the names of the victims be withheld.
The nine-year-old boy was reported to have died on December 13 in a hospital due to diarrhea. 

On December 14, a 36-year-old man was admitted at the Malaybalay Polymedic Hospital complaining of diarrhea. Two days later, his family requested that he be discharged. He eventually died at his home. He was reported to have died of "renal failure secondary to dehydration.”

On December 20, an 80-year-old woman from neighboring Sitio Encalbog also died. She was reported to have suffered diarrhea. The old woman apparently attended the wake of the 36-year-old, the village's barangay health worker told city physicians. 

On December 27, a 48-year-old daughter of the 80-year-old woman was admitted at the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital (BPH) due to LBM. She eventually died. 

On December 28, a 70-year-old man from the same village was also admitted at the BPH due to LBM. He died on January 2.

Sangalang said doctors and nurses have to cut short their Christmas vacation to respond to the emergency.

When an 11-member medical team from the CHO conducted free clinic and investigation, Sangalang said, they treated a total of 290 residents, including children, or more than half of the village's population. 

He said they have conducted free clinics and distributed medicines. They also conducted information and education campaign about the importance of hygiene, such as washing hands and boiling their drinking water. 

He said they have advised barangay officials and the residents to do household chlorination of water. Sangalang said they have distributed chlorine solutions to the residents with the help of health workers.

Rene Sajulga, a sanitary inspector of the city, told this reporter the water source in Candiisan needs to be developed. He said the water source has to be protected by an intake box then water be allowed to flow to a reservoir or a distribution box. 

"It was exposed to all kinds of contamination, including animal and human waste," he said.

Sangalang said barangays with "doubtful" water sources should prioritize their water projects to prevent a similar situation in the future. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)