Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Monday said the agency through its Charity Assistance Department (CAD) will be providing medical assistance to evacuees and affected families of the Mayon eruption in Albay.
“I’ve already instructed our Charity Assistance Department to keep tab on the situation on the ground, lalong-lalo na sa mga evacuation centers. And also, coordinate with the provincial hospital there and other hospitals para sa agarang assistance natin sa pasyenteng naapektuhan ng kalamidad,” Balutan said.
He said PCSO will shoulder the hospitalization of victims and will provide medicines for the evacuees.
Albay Province has already been placed under a state of calamity on January 16 allowing the local government to fully mobilize all agencies and resources to respond emergencies.
As of January 17 at 8 a.m., the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center of Albay Province has reported 36 barangays, 9,291 families, and 37,739 individual persons affected in the municipalities of Legazpi City, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Tabaco City, Malilipot, Santo Domingo, and Ligao City.
Dr. Jose Gochoco Jr., officer-in-charge of the office of the Assistant General Manager for Charity Sector at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, said the instructions of Balutan was already relayed to all the PCSO branches in the Bicol region to join hands and provide assistance to the Mayon victims.
“We will maximize our assistance depending on the patients’ needs and the severity of the situation. We will act accordingly. We are on standby,” Gochoco said.
PCSO has a yearly calamity fund of P100 million approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for natural and man-made disasters. Requests for financial assistance are being made in the hospital or health facility through the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP).
Patients who are confined in any health facility, those receiving health care management as outpatients, those who are undergoing dialysis, receiving cancer treatment, needing medicines, cardio and transplant procedures, rehabilitative therapy, etc. can avail of the IMAP.
Albay social worker Charo Loilo reported that apart from portable toilets, no immediate health assistance is needed as the people are still on the process of evacuation.
“We just noticed people going back to their homes to take a bath or do their personal necessities. Portalets (portable toilets) are needed right now,” said Loilo.
Once the evacuees have settled in, that’s when PCSO enters in coordination with the health facility or hospitals as evacuees usually get sick due to harsh conditions at the evacuation centers.
Some of the common health issues encountered in the past include cuts and bruises during evacuation, high blood pressure, respiratory sicknesses and infections (caused by ash falls and fumes), asthma, severe coughs and colds, and heart attacks.
Last Monday, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that while the volcano is not yet “explosive”, authorities are not discounting possible eruption as pyroclastic flow, which contains volcanic gas, ash, and fragments, is slowly flowing out of the crater.
Alert Level 3 has remained in Mayon Volcano in Albay, which means a “hazardous” eruption is possible within weeks or even days. Phivolcs will raise Alert Level 4 should there an indication of hazardous explosion with “lava fountaining” based in the high gas content and the frequency of recorded tremors.
As of 2017, Phivolcs has recorded 51 eruptions in Mayon. The most recent was on September 2014 where thousands were evacuated as Alert Level 3 was raised.
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