Gov’t Must Prioritize the Needs of Children in Disasters – Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda today called on thegovernment to reduce the risks posed by disasters on children by ensuring thatdisaster preparedness programs give utmost attention to the needs of young citizens.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the statement as she noted that an estimated 800,000children are already affected by the flood crisis in Thailand.

“Children are more vulnerable to disastersnot only because of the dangers that come with these occurrences but also dueto the increased exposure to climate-sensitive diseases. For instance, flooding increases the possibility of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such asdengue, diarrhea and e-coli,” she explained.

The United Nations Champion for DisasterRisk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia and the Pacific said thatthe 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction showed that atleast 66 million children are affected by disasters each year.

In fact, disasters resulted in increase dincidences of diarrhea in children under five years of age in Bolivia, more malnourished children under the age of three in Nepal, and increased infantmortality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, an earlier report, the ClimateVulnerability Monitor 2010, revealed that about 350,000 deaths every year are caused by major diseases and health disorders related to climate change. This number can climb up to 800,000 deaths per year by the year 2030 if the necessary measures on climate change adaptation are not taken.

“During disasters, priority attention mustbe given to the needs of children who are susceptible to diseases. There shouldbe greater effort in the prevention and control of climate-related diseases,and in the enhancement of the Department of Health’s capacity for early warningfor disease outbreaks,” the Senator pointed out.

“Furthermore, the grim images of damaged houses or a devastated community may cause stress or trauma to the minds ofyoung citizens. It would help if our evacuation centers are made attractive,comfortable and close to the feeling of being home. In our efforts to reduce disaster risks, it is essential that we consider the direct and indirect effects of disasters and climate change on children,” Legarda concluded.***