Children at risk of respiratory illnesses due to volcanic ashes

 

Gray and ash-covered trees, roads, and rooftops are currently common views in Guinobatan, a municipality in Albay heavily affected by volcanic ash fall from Mayon volcano.

 

“Inhaling volcanic ashes is not good for one’s health, especially young children. It may cause or trigger several respiratory illnesses like asthma. Babies are most vulnerable to respiratory illnesses because their lungs are not yet fully developed. They should be transferred to a safer, ash-free area,” says Venus Grecia, World Vision Health and Nutrition Specialist.

 

Wind carries with it ashes that blanket rooftops and plants. Mayon volcano spews ashes several times in a day, causing momentary zero visibility in areas of Guinobatan and Camalig in Albay. Ashes are also wind-carried to as far as the province of Camarines Sur.

 

 

The Department of Health data showed that of the 5,000 individuals who consulted the medical teams in the evacuation centres, 64% (around 3,000) complained about acute respiratory diseases like coughs and colds.

 

“If you just sweep the ashes, it wouldn’t go. You need to wash them with water,” explains Gloria, 53. “Rice farmers here are affected. The ash will eventually kill their crops.”

 

 

World Vision is currently coordinating with local government officials and families on children’s situation inside evacuation centers.

 

The January 31 data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported a total of Php139 billion worth of damage in agriculture caused by Mayon’s volcanic activity.

 

There are already 23,250 families and 89,828 persons from Albay municipalities of Bacacay, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Daraga, Tabaco City, Malilipot, Santo Domingo, and Legazpi City.

 

World Vision aims to complement the government-led response and provide urgent aid to at least 2,000 families or 10,000 people. World Vision/January 31, 2018

 

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