Children Taking Refuge from Philippines Floods at Risk of Disease, Save the Children Warns

Children Taking Refuge from Philippines Floods at Risk of Disease, Save the Children Warns

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Newborn baby Kaye receives a shot for an infection in an evacuation shelter.  Her mother remains in the hospital and her grandmother fled heavy flooding with seven grandchildren. Credit:  Save the Children.
Newborn baby Kaye receives a shot for an infection in an evacuation shelter. Her mother remains in the hospital and her grandmother fled heavy flooding with seven grandchildren. Credit: Save the Children.

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MANILA, Philippines. (August 10, 2012) — The lack of latrines and clean water in cramped evacuation centers in Manila and neighbouring provinces is putting hundreds of thousands of children at risk of disease, Save the Children warns.

"We have seen multiple cases of diarrhea, flu and skin rash in evacuation centers, all of which can spread very quickly if people do not have good hygiene practices, especially among children," said Anna Lindenfors, country director for Save the Children in the Philippines. "Nearly 300,000 people are packed into less than 500 centers, living under precarious conditions. Poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water and health services are all aggravating factors."

To improve the hygiene conditions in evacuation centers, Save the Children has begun relief distributions in the National Capital Region and Laguna, and will reach 1,500 families with initial aid packages, including cooking utensils and cleaning items, by the end of the week. The international humanitarian and development agency is also working to distribute 2,500 pre-made hygiene packages, with items including soap, shampoo and other toiletries.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health issued a warning on the potential outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease caused by contact with rat urine or feces. Officals have begun handing out preventative medicine to displaced people.

"The government has been vigilant about protecting the public from any disease outbreaks, but sanitation conditions need to improve quickly in order to protect children in the weeks ahead," said Anna Lindenfors. "Young infants in particular need clean and sanitary conditions as their immune systems are still weak, making them especially vulnerable to external conditions."

Save the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 and mounted a large-scale emergency response to typhoon Ketsana in 2009, and more recently, last year’s Typhoon Washi.

When emergency strikes, Save the Children aims to respond to critical needs of children and families inside and outside of evacuation centers, addressing concerns related to relief, child protection, education, health and nutrition—including water and sanitation, food security, and shelter.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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