The Department of Health (DOH) – MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) recently completed the three-day “Training for the Identification and Referral of Patients with Metal Poisoning (HMP) for 45 Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) from various municipalities of Marinduque from August 1-3, 2017.
“With the support of our trained BHWs we can now perform immediate health risk assessment to residents in areas that are exposed and contaminated with mine tailings and provide the necessary treatment and reduce the risk of contamination and exposure from heavy metal poisoning. This is the only way we can preserve their health and save their lives,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo strongly stated.
“Residents living in these contaminated barangays have been complaining of skin diseases, diarrhea, leukemia, kidney problems, several other maladies that are affecting their health. These were diagnosed ONLY as common diseases because there has been no toxicology test yet to prove otherwise, although high levels of heavy metals have been diagnosed in the blood of complaining patients,” Janairo explained.
Among the areas that are heavily silted with mine tailings of marcopper are Calancan Bay, Makulapnit and Boac River.
Residents in these areas are exposed daily to various sources of toxic chemicals. They are also expose from air contaminants and ingestion of contaminated seafoods, vegetables, fruits and other food products from contaminated seas and soils.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the present chemical analyses of the mine tailings in contaminated areas reveal high level of toxicity and elevated levels of copper, lead, cadmium, selenium, mercury, silver, cobalt, and arsenic. These heavy metals are dangerous to people and aquatic life forms.
The training on the identification and referral of patients with heavy metal poisoning for BHWs was conducted by the regional office in collaboration with the toxicology Department of Batangas Medical Center.
A training on the identification and management of patients with heavy metal poisoning for medical doctors and health nurses was also conducted in collaboration with the East Avenue Medical Center Toxicology Department in preparation for the forthcoming province-wide health risk assessment starting on August 10, 2017.
“The BHWs will be the frontliners in the identification and referral of HMP patients to the HMP medical assessment team that will be established at the Dr. Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital,” Janairo underlined.