The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday extended its medical assistance to the communities affected by the oil spill from the sunken motor tanker MT Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro.
In a statement, the DOH said that available medical stockpiles of several hospitals, including medicines, face masks, nebulizers, and oxygen concentrators, were turned over to the Oriental Mindoro provincial government.
DOH toxicology experts were also deployed to support the onsite primary care providers.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire also joined the onsite inspection and evaluation of the healthcare and evacuation centers and the surveillance of the areas near the oil spill.
“This recent incident calls for a whole-of-government approach, and with the environment being a major determinant of the health of our people, the DOH is working closely together with other concerned national government agencies and local government units to mitigate the effects of the oil spill to the affected communities,” she said in a statement.
On Friday, the DOH coordinated with local government units to supply affected families with adequate emergency inhalation, first aid, and protective equipment.
To ensure that frontline responders conducting rapid assessment and providing emergency response in the area would be protected, the agency secured an initial supply of hazmat suits suitable for chemical incidents through the Poison Control Centers of the Batangas Medical Center and East Avenue Medical Center.
MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank in heavy seas on February 28.
The Philippine Coast Guard placed an oil spill boom to contain the spill and deployed divers and marine experts to help in the containment effort.
With this, Vergeire also reminded locals near the oil spill to temporarily look for other places to stay for health purposes.
“Sa pagkakataong tayo ay hindi nakalikas: huwag lumangoy sa mga lugar na apektado ng langis; iwasang madikit sa sediment, buhangin, lupa, o mga bagay na kontaminado ng langis; huwag gumamit ng tubig na kontaminado ng langis para sa pagkonsumo ng mga tao o hayop; at huwag kumain ng isda, molusko, at iba pang pagkaing-dagat na nahuli sa lugar malapit sa oil spill,” she added.
(In the event that you are unable to evacuate, do not swim in oil-affected areas; avoid contact with sediment, sand, soil, or oil-contaminated objects; do not use oil-contaminated water for human or animal consumption; and do not eat fish, shellfish, and other seafood caught in the areas near the oil spill.) — DVM, GMA Integrated News