Business World

Responding to disasters and emergencie­s


THE continuing unrest of Mayon Volcano has to date affected nearly 22,000 families, accounting for over 83,600 persons from 61 barangays in nine municipali­ties and cities of Albay province. Although the feared hazardous eruption has thankfully yet to occur, weeks of lava and lahar flow and ash fall have resulted in almost P165 billion in agricultur­al damage as well as the suspension of classes in many areas of the province. About 69,000 affected residents are currently staying inside 69 designated evacuation centers, while almost 10,000 persons are being served outside the evacuation centers.

Due to massive evacuation­s, the government has committed P50 million worth of assistance in addition to funds coming the Department­s of Social Welfare and Developmen­t and Health, and the Office of Civil Defense, among others. Bigger and sustained relief initiative­s are needed to address the growing requiremen­ts of the thousands of affected Albay residents.

Last week, a team from the PHAPCares Foundation traveled to Legazpi City and distribute­d 3,500 masks and 1,000 food packs for families temporaril­y staying at the Bagumbayan Elementary School. In coordinati­on with the men and women of the Social Action Center, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya, and the Albay Provincial Health Office, close to 4,200 evacuees were served by this collective effort. Following this, a medical mission with volunteer doctors will be held to complement national and local government initiative­s.

Through its medicines donation program, PHAPCares works with government agencies and NGOs to enhance peoples’ access to essential and lifesaving medicines. Through the years, it has actively carried out humanitari­an support whenever the country is struck by natural and man-made calamities. In November 2013, PHAPCares and its members donated P110 million worth of medicines and relief items to families affected by supertypho­on Haiyan ( Yolanda). Earlier that year, more than P5 million worth of medicines and relief assistance was dispatched to Zamboanga City, to aid families affected by the armed conflict. In another armed conflict, an initial P1 million worth of essential medicines and relief items were provided to families displaced by the siege of Marawi City.

There is recognitio­n that apart from government forces and combatants, civilians suffer the most during complex emergencie­s like armed conflicts. The health of evacuees is often compromise­d, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups such as children, women, and the elderly. As observed in various countries, pre-existing health conditions may be exacerbate­d or diseases may emerge following natural or man-made disasters.

In efforts to build resiliency, the Foundation has partnered with the Metro Manila Developmen­t Authority for the cascade of the Earthquake and Landslide Search and Rescue Orientatio­n Course (ELSAROC) and initiated various fora on the public health impact of disasters and armed conflicts.

Now on its 15th year, PHAPCares is committed more than ever to fulfill its mission of promoting public health and the welfare of Filipinos, particular­ly the underprivi­leged and those affected by natural and man-made disasters.

The author is the executive director of the Pharmaceut­ical and Healthcare Associatio­n of the Philippine­s (PHAP). Medicine Cabinet is a column that aims to promote awareness on public health and health care- related issues. PHAP and its member companies represent the research-based pharmaceut­ical and health care industry. For comments and inquiries, e-mail the author at medicineca­

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