(Source: By Bernice Camille V. Bauzon, The Manila Times, Philippines (MCT) THE European Union (EU) and Canada will donate P38.1 million to support relief operations for victims of the monsoon rains and floods that battered Metro Manila and nearby provinces last week.
The expected donation came as the Department of Health (DOH) issued a drug price alert and deployed a water-treatment facility unit to evacuation centers, while Vice President Jejomar Binay said that flood-affected borrowers of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC) may postpone paying for their housing loans for six months.
The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response announced the release of P36 million as aid after the EU delegation in the country assessed flood-hit areas in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.
“The funds will be used primarily for distribution of relief items, water and sanitation, debris clean-up, food assistance, shelter support, and medical aid. Over 127,000 vulnerable people in need of urgent assistance are expected to directly benefit from this funding,” Lubomir Frebort, the delegation’s charge d’affaires, said in a statement.
The funding “is a reaffirmation of the European Union’s commitment to provide humanitarian aid to families affected by both natural and man-made disasters,” it added. For its part, the Canadian Embassy in Manila, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), allocated an initial P2.1 million for the flood victims.
The amount is expected to support the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), the Red Crescent Societies, and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in flood-affected areas.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have lost loved ones or are otherwise affected by the latest devastating rains. Canada stands ready to assist the Philippines in times of need,” Canadian Ambassador to Manila Christopher Thornley said.
The IFRC aims to continue providing much-needed food and other relief items, support disease prevention and health education, provide psychosocial support to affected families, and ensure that the evacuees’ immediate water needs are met.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona on Monday assured the public of the availability of the antibiotic doxycycline and other affordable drugs, saying that their prices are being monitored to prevent overpricing.
Doxycycline is recommended for the prevention of leptospirosis, an infection commonly transmitted to humans from water contaminated by the urine of animals, usually rats. Those exposed to floodwaters often face the risk of catching the disease.
Prices of a 100-milligram capsule of doxycycline range between P2 to P15.
“We want the public to be able to make informed decisions and get the best prices on doxycycline and other drugs,” Ona said. “Supplies and prices of our medicines remain stable and we are regularly monitoring and informing the public of drug prices.”
The Health secretary, however, stressed that doxycycline does not totally protect against leptosirosis.
“Those who develop fever even after taking doxycycline should go to their doctor for examination,” Ona said.
Another Health official, Dr. Eduardo Janairo, said that the deployment of a water treatment facility unit to evacuation centers would help flood victims avoid waterborne diseases.
“This water treatment facility unit is very suitable because it can supply clean and potable drinking water in an instant, especially in times of emergency, water shortages and calamities. It can be started up and applied on the spot. All you need is to obtain an adequate source of water that the unit can process,” said Janairo, chief of the department’s Health Development-National Capital Region.
He added that the unit is currently deployed to Malabon City, then it would be brought to other flood-hit areas once there is enough supply of potable water.
Meanwhile, Binay, chairman of the House and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the NHMFC Board of Directors, said that the postponement in the payment of housing loans is his way of “helping out our fellow Filipinos who lost their homes and properties due to the floods.”
The Vice President also said that the moratorium would take effect on August 15 and last until February 15, 2013. He added that interest and penalty charges would not be imposed during the period.
To qualify, members must present a barangay [village] certification that they are bonafide residents and that their area was flooded or declared under state of calamity.
©2012 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines)
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