Quicken drug deliveries during crises, DoH urged

RESIDENTS of Barangay Malanday in Markina City were evacuated to a covered court after the water level of the Marikina River reached 16.4m above sea level during Typhoon Paeng. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ WALTER BOLLOZOS

A LAWMAKER on Sunday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to transfer the storage of medicines from regional offices to local government units (LGU) to quicken distribution during calamities.

About P31 million worth of medicines and medical supplies have been sent to different regions affected by Typhoon Nalgae, locally known as Paeng.

“However, when the typhoon hit, roads became impassable and bridges were damaged, making it impossible for the LGUs to get the doxycycline supplies,” Iloilo Rep. Janette L. Garin said in a statement.

Ms. Garin, a former Health secretary, noted that in her district alone, it took almost a week after the typhoon before the medicines arrived.

She said Filipinos affected by typhoon floods need doxycycline, an antibiotic, to prevent leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis or inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, liver failure, respiratory distress and even death.

“Leptospirosis is a preventable disease, but most of the time, it’s too late before it can be prevented,” Ms. Garin said. “Doxycycline should be initiated as soon as possible for it to be effective.”

She said symptoms could be experienced two to 14 days after exposure.

Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness in the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes.

She urged DoH to review policies in prepositioning doxycycline since “this is vital in preventing leptospirosis during calamities.”

“We are proposing a more practical and responsive solution to the prevention of leptospirosis. We should target zero leptospirosis post-flooding.” Ms. Garin said.

Under DoH guidelines, doxycycline should be taken 24 to 72 hours after exposure to contaminated water. — Kyanna Angela Bulan