Epidemics, Diseases, and Health Emergencies in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters in the Philippines
Authors / Editors: Lu, Jinky Leilanie
The study aimed to present the data on the frequency and severity of natural disasters in the Philippines, the common diseases in affected communities after a natural disaster, the immediate health effects after a natural disaster and the preceding environmental risk factors, as well as the epidemics that have plagued the country for the past years. Data were gathered from records of local and international agencies. The study showed that there are immediate adverse health effects of natural disasters. Drought brings about protein malnutrition, earthquakes can cause crush injuries, and fires can cause poor air quality. The study also showed that most common communicable diseases arising from disasters and emergencies include diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, measles and malaria. In the international scene, cholera, diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, measles, meningitis, tetanus, diarrhea, leptospirosis, acute respiratory syndrome, coccidiomycosis, and malaria were reported to be the major epidemics erupting after a type of natural disaster. There are several recommendations proposed in this study for disaster management such as integration of permanent LGU disaster risk management, better coordination among agencies involved in disaster management, strengthened vertical and horizontal integration of disaster risk reduction plans, creation of an overall framework that integrates environmental issues with disaster management strategies, documentation, evaluation and replication of successful local disaster prevention and management strategies, coordination with health units, and coordination with economic development units. Natural disaster can inhibit economic development of the nation, and therefore, the Philippines is challenged to come up and implement a comprehensive disaster preparedness and mitigation measures for disasters and epidemics.