The El Niño phenomenon is also a public health concern.
Aside from its adverse effects on agriculture, the abnormal weather condition is also expected to bring about health-related concerns.
That’s why the Department of Health is reminding the public to be aware on how they can protect themselves and advising local health facilities to prepare and ensure they are able to respond to possible outbreaks in diseases brought about by the El Niño.
Rock Tubana, health program research of DOH-Cordillera, said the agency is anticipating an outbreak in diseases as one of the possible impacts of the abnormal weather occurrence, such as heat stress, respiratory diseases, and malnutrition, among other health concerns.
The El Nino phenomenon, he said, is also a hot bed for epidemics like dengue fever.
Tubana said health facilities should prepare for increased consultations and ensure immediate response by putting in place measures to prevent or minimize the harm brought about by the weather condition.
Aside from the increase in consultations, health facilities should also prepare for intermittent water and power supply and coordinate early with local water service providers and come up with backup plans to address the possible unavailability of water.
In terms of power supply, Tubana said health facilities should ensure their electrical systems are inspected and maintained and energy-saving strategies are in place.
“We are anticipating the impacts of the El Nino, but there should be no interruption in the delivery of health services. Problems on unavailability of water and intermittent power supply should be addressed,” he said.
Local health facilities should also ensure the availability of health commodities by conducting regular inventory of their stock to ensure adequate supply of medicines.
“They should also orient and train their staff members on the detection and management of diseases and report promptly any health events related to El Nino,” Tubana said.
The DOH wants local health units to conduct regular inventory of their resources as this will also help them determine their needs to be addressed by the DOH.
The public, meanwhile, is being advised to be wary of the impacts of El Nino on their health and practice basic prevention measures.
As the weather condition is expected to cause a rise in temperature, hydration and practice of good hygiene and cleanliness will help prevent health concerns, especially food-borne diseases, which are also among the anticipated health problems.
The Pagasa announced El Nino is expected to affect the country this month until September until early next year. – Jane B. Cadalig