SENATOR Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has sought a Senate inquiry into the alarming outbreak of cholera in multiple regions in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) has reported a total of 3,729 cases since January this year, or a 282 percent increase from the number of cases during the same period last year.
“At least 33 individuals have already died from the disease this year and children aged five to nine were most affected by cholera. More than ascertaining the whys and the wherefores, the situation strongly calls for a review of existing policies to prevent and mitigate the outbreak of the disease,” Estrada said in the explanatory note of his proposed Senate Resolution No. 266.
A disease of inequity, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors, Estrada noted the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) report saying that deaths due to the disease are preventable with today’s arsenal of tools as it can be controlled with a multi-sector approach through the provision of basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, and oral cholera vaccines.
“There is a need to protect the population, especially the children and the underprivileged, against this debilitating yet preventable illness through a coordinated approach among government agencies. The existing policies and programs on sanitation and immunization must be reviewed in order to enhance emergency response mechanisms and preventive measures against the transmission of the disease and to promote public health,” the lawmaker said.
DOH data shows an upsurge in cholera cases in the country, from 976 cases recorded in January to October last year to 3,729 during the same period this year, with most of the cases reported from Eastern Visayas, Davao Region, and CARAGA.
Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas have surpassed the epidemic threshold levels for cholera during the past 10 months.
Cholera, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is an extremely virulent disease caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae and it can cause severe acute watery diarrhea affecting both children and adults and can kill within hours if left untreated.