GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 Oct) – Health officials in Sarangani have warned residents in a diarrhea-stricken village in Maasim town against drinking from all water sources in the area due to coliform bacteria contamination.
“All sources of water within Barangay Tinoto are not fit for drinking purposes,” Dr. Antonio Yasana, provincial health officer, said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.
Three children have died and at least 250 other residents in coastal Tinoto were affected by diarrhea since last week.
Yasana said an internal crisis committee (ICC) was created to plan and implement immediate actions even as the diarrhea outbreak has already subsided.
Yasana informed the municipal and barangay officials that the existing water source in Tinoto can be used for washing and laundry only and not even for washing dishes or kitchen utensils.
“What is definite is that all the water sources are infected, contaminated with coliform bacteria,” Yasana disclosed, citing the initial result of microbiological test of Tinoto’s water sources.
“The situation is manageable, meaning we are addressing the needs of the community. We do not want that there will be more (diarrhea) cases that will be happening,” he said
Fishing is the main livelihood of the people in Barangay Tinoto, which has a population of 4,534. Their water source is from two peddling tankers coming from Bawing, General Santos City and Siguel, and two local water systems.
Mayor Jose Zamorro said a municipal vehicle has been delivering containers of drinking water from the poblacion to the diarrhea-stricken village.
Last Monday, Dr. Jaileen Milar, municipal health officer, reported that diarrhea cases started to occur on October 11 with one death reported on the same date. Another two deaths were reported on October 15 and 16 and the cases of diarrhea escalated to 46.
The following day, the total number of cases reached 254 but mostly outpatient due to “mild presentation” of the illness.
Health workers continue their monitoring in the village even if the situation is already manageable, Yasana said.
He recommended the construction of a communal toilet, noting that there were “no sanitary toilets among the majority of the residents with no proper waste disposal.”
“Most of the patients interviewed do not practice simple and proper hygiene practices such as hand washing, Many were observed to have dirty long nails,” Yasana said.
The village has been placed under a state of calamity for the barangay government to use its five-percent calamity fund. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)