Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press ( for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

[NEWS] UP eyes task force on health disasters in Mindanao

(This is a welcome move by the University of the Philippines in Mindanao. It goes beyond, and makes use of its academic mandate and influence to help Mindanao prepare for disasters. Its all around us: in Albay, Southern Luzon, Indonesia everywhere. This should parallel and dovetail with the efforts of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils (RDCCs), especially in capability-building for LGUs to do hazard scanning and planning in their communities. The organizers however admitted to me that they were not able to invite LGUs from the Caraga region.Also, I hope that disaster-preparedness efforts do not precipitate after the disaster-preparedness month! UP's effort should not skim only by exploring but really push for this task force to be formed and activated.)

DAVAO CITY (Courtesy of MindaNews/25 July) -- The University of the Philippines in
Mindanao is holding roundtable discussions to explore the creation of
a multi-agency task force or network to focus on health disasters and
emergencies in Mindanao.

The discussions, scheduled on July 31 at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here,
would gather local government and non-government officials from the
cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and General Santos.

The forum aims to "facilitate exchange of views and share experiences
on health disasters and emergencies and its impact on human
populations and the environment," the UP-Min information office said.

It is organized to impart some methods to forecast health disasters
based on historical data using new research tools, said Rene Estremera
of the UP-Min information office. But Estremera said they are looking
at exploring the possibility of collaboration and integration of
efforts by various government agencies and other stakeholders. He said
they will assess at the end of the forum if the creation of a
multi-agency task force or network in Mindanao is viable.

Estremera said they are looking at a body which will study, monitor,
coordinate and focus actions on forecasting health disasters and

The key to dealing with disasters -- whether natural or man-made -- is
not to sound the alarm bell but to equip the people with appropriate
knowledge to help foster a culture of preparedness among the public,
said Allan Villanueva, project assistant.

Based on the tentative program as of July 12, Dr. Ma. Lourdes
Barrameda, emergency and humanitarian action officer of the World
Health Organization (WHO), will present a paper on "Global Health
Emergencies with Local Implications."

Prof. Sean Fitzgerald, a UP -Min visiting lecturer from the University
of Massachusetts, will discuss "Nature and Impact of Geohazards in
Mindanao. Prof. Vicente Calag, who chairs UP-Min's Mathematics,
Physics and Computer Science department, will present "GIS tool:
Forecasting and Monitoring Disasters and Health Emergencies."

Expected to give reactions to the presentations are Dr. Paulyn Ubial,
Department of Health regional director in Southeastern Mindanao; Davao
City Councilor Rene Lopez, a physician; and Engr. Luis Jacinto, Davao
City director for planning.

There will be an open forum and drafting of resolutions towards the
end of the forum.

The Office of the Civi l Defense in Southeastern Mindanao, in line
with the celebration of disaster-preparedness month, told MindaNews
earlier this month they are organizing local government units in
capability-building so they could evaluate their communities' disaster
hazards. The OCD said they will also aid communities in developing
emergency response action appropriate for the local hazards
identified. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)


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