By John Noel E. Herrera
Cases of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) caused by contaminated food or water continue to rise, including one new fatality days after Iloilo City was placed under a state of calamity.
Data from Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) indicated that 10 persons succumbed to the infection as of Sept 6, 2022, while cases ballooned to 419.
The latest fatality was a 7-month baby boy from Gustilo, La Paz who died last Aug 31, 2022 at Western Visayas Medical Center.
ICHO also reported that 313 cases of AGE have already recovered, while 55 are still admitted, and 41 are under treatment at home.
Molo district still has the highest cases with 93, followed by Tanza City Proper with 66 cases; Arevalo (63); Jaro 1 (53); Sto. Rosario City Proper (46); Lapuz (37); La Paz (26); Mandurriao (22), and Jaro II (13).
Children aged 1 to 10 years old remain the most affected age group with 202 cases; followed by 11 to 20 years old (56); below 1-year-old (50), and 21 to 30 years old (41).
Aside from the high AGE cases in the city, the ICHO also recorded more cholera cases with the toll climbing to 12.
As of Sept 6, ICHO has already ordered the closure of 40 water refilling stations in the city as they did not have valid permits and failed to pass the Water Quality Test.
Those water refilling stations that are operating without permits will be closed and will not be issued a new permit for six months.
According to Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna of ICHO, the compliance team already started helping the city health office inspect the wells and water refilling stations in the city yesterday.
“Nasudlan na nila ang Molo, La Paz and Jaro. Amat-amat na nagasilulod ang mga report and these will be forwarded na sa aton sanitary division,” Fortuna added.
(They have already inspected Molo, La Paz, and Jaro districts. We are slowly getting the reports and these will be forwarded to our sanitary division.)
As of Sept 5, 2022, ICHO together with the compliance team already inspected 13,505 deep wells, but only 1,164 were chlorinated, while 43 were condemned, meaning the public is prohibited from drawing water from these wells.
Out of the 241 water refilling stations, 188, or 78 percent, were already inspected by the team with 50 of them found to be non-compliant.
INSPECTION IN SCHOOLS
ICHO also coordinated with the Department of Education in Iloilo City for the inspection of water sources in schools to ensure that all the students are safe as the city is under a state of calamity status.
The city health also emphasized that all academic institutions should undergo water quality testing to check if the water they are drinking is potable.
“We were able to get the list of schools without water connection that is relying on deep wells or shallow wells as water sources and we will conduct a test on that,” Fortuna said.
According to ICHO head Dr. Annabelle Tang, out of 70 elementary and secondary schools in the city, 36 have their own water service providers, while 34 were just relying on wells as their water source.
Tang added that they already scheduled their visit to the schools as they will get a sample from all the wells and chlorinate it as well.
ICHO also said that in coordination with the City Engineer’s Office, the city government is eyeing those schools without water service providers to have Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW).
They will also be conducting lectures in schools to educate both the students and the teachers about the two food and water-borne diseases, and how to avoid them.
Two canteens coming from a university in City Proper were also positive for coliform bacteria during the initial water sample analyses conducted by ICHO.
GOING HARD ON AMBULANT VENDORS
The ICHO and the city government were also going hard on ambulant vendors as some of the sources of AGE and cholera cases in the city may be linked to food and drinks that are being sold on the streets.
The CHO also tapped the Iloilo City Compliance team to check the ambulant vendors if they have sanitary permits and health cards.
Under the city’s Health and Sanitation Code, health cards should be renewed every six months.
“Sa mga ambulant vendors, na identify na per district, and aside dira, pati man ang mga ga-ubra ice cream, buko juice, calamnsi juice nga gina baligya sa aton barangays, gina pang-inspect naman ni sila kung sin-o ang wala health card, and ini sila subong ang gina pa-comply and wala gina allow nga magbaligya, unless macomply na nila ang tanan nga requirements,” Fortuna said.
The CHO is also monitoring the restaurants and other food establishments, specifically their water sources.
The CHO, together with Mayor Jerry P. Treñas also met with the management of food establishments to discuss their water and food safety on Wednesday, Sept 7.
According to Dr. Fortuna, they will also apply the same treatment that they are doing with the water refilling stations to restaurants and other food establishments that will not comply with the necessary permits.
“Based on our sanitation code, we can recommend a sanitary order of closure to close the restaurants and other food establishments,” he said