ALBAY, Philippines (UPDATED) – At least 59 evacuees from conflict-torn Marawi City have died of dehydration and other health-related causes, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said on Thursday, June 15.
This death toll is higher than the number of civilians killed in clashes between government troops and the Maute terrorist group.
"There are 40 cases of deaths due to dehydration," Ubial said in Filipino. These were residents who had fled Marawi and are staying in temporary shelters being monitored by health workers.
She said 19 other deaths occured in government-run evacuation centers, but these were people who already had health conditions, which "living in congested evacuation centers" aggravated.
"These patients with health conditions, [who were]...previously confined in hospitals but opted to stay at evacuation centers, succumbed to death in the evacuation camps due to aggravating conditions," she said.
Ubial was in Legazpi City for an ASEAN dengue forum, and was asked by journalists about the situation in Marawi City, where clashes between government troops and local terrorists group have entered its 4th week.
As of Wednesday, June 14, there are 68 evacuation centers in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, and other parts of Lanao del Sur. Lanao del Sur, where Marawi is the capital, has the biggest number of evacuees, according to the DOH chief.
The DOH has monitored gastroenteritis, upper respiratory diseases, diarrhea, and skin diseases out of 20,627 persons or 4,244 families living in evacuation centers.
Ubial said health officials are also concerned about the welfare of the greater number of Marawi families who remain outside the evacuation centers. She said 218,551 people have been displaced by the Marawi crisis but only around 20,000 of them are in the evacuation centers.
"We are monitoring 20,000 evacuees in different temporary shelters and given medical assistance everyday by our doctors and nurses. But our concern is the 180,000 evacuees living outside the temporary shelters with no health personnel checking their current situation," she said.
EBecause of this, the DOH deployed additional health personnel to Marawi City, Ozamiz City, Illigan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur to look into the health condition of the evacuees and displaced families.
"So we need the help of barangay officials in areas with evacuees to report to us the incident so we could provide health services to the patients and displaced families," Ubial said.
She added that patients from Marawi City and Lanao del Sur will receive free hospitalization as PhilHealth will shoulder their expenses. This includes patients without birth certificates.
"Hospitalization is free, and PhilHealth is working with us to pay the hospital bill through zero balance policy even without birth certificate as long as they are a resident of Marawi," Ubial said.
About 1,290 patients have been referred to DOH hospitals. Of this number, 178 were admitted and 467 were treated as outpatients. – Rappler.com