Higher dengue cases noted in Surigao Norte’s mining towns

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/24 July) – Most of the dengue cases this year in Surigao del Norte have been recorded in three mining towns, according to Carmilito C. Mantong, provincial supervising sanitary inspector of the Provincial Health Office.

Of the 181 cases from January to June 18, 66 occurred in Claver, 33 in Tubod and 16 in Placer.

The figure for January to June 18 is just 10 cases lower than the 191 cases recorded last year for the whole province.

Mantong attributed the high incidence of dengue in these towns to the presence of old tires owned by the mining firms where the mosquitoes would lay eggs.

In Claver, Barangays Taganito, Hayanggabon, and Cagdianao have the most number of dengue cases, Mantong told reporters yesterday in his office, adding this development has alarmed him.

These barangays host the Taganito Mining Corporation, Taganito Hydro Pressured Acid Leach Nickel Corporation and Platinum Group of Mining Companies.

Mantong said they are closely working with the health units in these barangays to address the problem.

In Tubod meanwhile, 22 of its dengue cases occurred in Barangay Timamana and eight in Barangay Motorpool.

Two large-scale mining companies, Australian-based Greenstone Resources Inc. and Silangan Mining Company, a subsidiary of Philex Mining are operating in Tubod.

But Tubod Mayor Christina Hemady R. Arcillas believes that the presence of several springs makes the town susceptible to the disease.

She said she would not blame the dengue cases on the mining firms, as they are located far from the affected barangays.

She added mining companies periodically cleaned the used tires from their heavy equipment.

The mayor said they will try to reduce the cases by the second half of the year through cleanup drive and information dissemination in different barangays.

In 2012, Claver ranked first in the province with 63 cases, Placer placed second with 21, while Tubod landed on seventh spot with 12.

Claver Mayor Eddie Gokiangkee told reporters today during the League of Municipalities of the Philippines for Surigao del Norte meeting that the rising cases of dengue in his town has alarmed him.

He said he had asked the mining companies to conduct periodically clean their surroundings including the used tires.

“Not just mining companies but also the communities,” he said.

Placer town hosts Silangan Mining Company, a subsidiary of Philex Mining Company. Silangan is now working for its cave block mining system.

Another company, the Manila Mining Corporation, closed sometime in early 2000.

Placer also has several illegal small-scale mining operations in several barangays which until now have not been accounted for.

In 2000, the Surigao del Norte Health Office recorded a total of 258 cases. Two were confirmed dead from Placer and in Dapa town, according to Virginia C. Bacolod, nurse designate at the Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance Unit.

Bacolod said the number of dengue cases last year was 35 percent higher than in 2011. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)