Provincial health officers get ‘Sphere’ certified

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Aiming to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian officials to their constituents, donors and affected populations, provincial health officers underwent a 10-day training in the Sphere Project in Singapore last week.

    Provincial health officer Dr. Jay Rivera led the group with Dr. Jingle Maray, chief of hospital of Porac, and Bernadeth Besonia, health emergency management services (HEMS) coordinator.

    Rivera said Vice Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda has instructed him to help create a permanent evacuation center at par with United Nations standard.

    Rivera said they finished the 10-day course in Singapore, which is masteral program in public health, sponsored by two non-government organizations.

    He said the governor, vice governor and other local officials should be aware of the Sphere project hand book which is “one of the most widely known and internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response.”

    Rivera said the trainors were a mix of Singaporeans and Americans who went to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda and other parts of the world like the earthquake in Nepal and the tsunami that hit Banda Aceh, Indonesia, among others.

    The Sphere Project teaches the proper and humane way of treating evacuees, he said.

    “Here in Pampanga, we experience evacuations almost every year due to calamities and this prompted the vice governor to make our evacuation centers at par with world standards,” Rivera said. “We learned that in case of evacuation, the minimum is three toilets for women and one for men and where the proper place to put them. The toilets should be secured and well lit.”

    Proper nutrition and the kind of food we prepare for evacuees is also important as well as the water, he added.

    “Where should the water be placed to avoid contamination? Where do you throw the garbage and where should it be placed? Sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, even non-food shelter or for every square meter how many people should be there? The Sphere project handbook gives us now a guide on what to do,” Rivera explained.

    There should only be a maximum of five families for every 45 square meters, he said.

    Vulnerable people like persons with disabilities (PWDs), children, senior citizens where to put them in evacuation centers is defined in the handbook, said Rivera.

    “So that Kapampangans, when they are in evacuation centers, should be treated humanely,” he added. “Hindi na po usu ngayon ang (It is no longer the fad that) we just put them in one place and we also know na paulit-ulit ito (this is a recurring thing).”

    Rivera noted “the handbook is mostly common sense, but sometimes common sense is not enough.”

    “We have a permanent evacuation center in Magalang and we are asking for two more from the Public Works department in Porac and in San Simon,” he said.

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