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The Four o’clock Habit

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By Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News

First Posted 09:20:00 02/08/2010

Filed Under: Environmental Issues

ONE of the privileges of doing advocacy work is meeting women and men who care about our people and our planet. Unmindful of the personal sacrifices that need to be made, they show their love not just by words (or propaganda) but in their action. Most of them are unheralded and happily working behind the scenes.

Among such involved citizens are the Environment Team members of the University of the Philippines in Cebu’s NSTP-CWTS program led by Kristian Jacob Abad Lora, who is unassuming, patient but action-oriented with tremendous leadership skills. They partnered with the Visayas Climate Action Network (VCAN) led by another dedicated young professional, Michelle Domocol, and the officials of Sambag 2 headed by Barangay Head Caloy Belarmino, to increase the environmental consciousness and promote the health of the constituents.

After undergoing a training workshop conducted by Domocol, the youthful members of the team sponsored a forum on health and solid waste management participated in mostly by the volunteer barangay health workers and the children at Sitio ISKP. It was inspiring to see the youthful leaders so enthusiastic in bringing the message across: that we are all inter-connected and that we have to do our share in knowing our laws, our impact on our fragile ecosystem and in protecting our health and our environment.

Cebu City has one of the highest numbers of cases of dengue fever, dubbed as the “Silent Killer”, with Sambag 2 as one of the hard-hit barangay. The barangay is now determined to eradicate the disease by massive information campaign with the partner stakeholders. Education indeed is key to prevention.

Barangay Sambag 2 officials and health workers circulated a health advisory (in Cebuano) on dengue to all the families in the area. It contains important data about dengue fever, symptoms, and suggested preventive measures. It includes suggestions to do the four o’clock habit when residents of Sambag 2 are expected to focus on cleaning up and looking at possible breeding places of dengue-carrying mosquito, Aedis Aegypti or Aedis Albopictus and be mindful of one’s responsibility as a planet-dweller.

We cannot deny the close connection between proper solid waste management and good health. If we are conscious of our consumption habits and prefer organic and biodegradable items, refusing plastic or styropore covered goods, take the time to segregate and do the 5 R’s –refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and restore – instead of carelessly littering our streets with plastic wrappers, caps, bottles and empty containers from junk foods and filling up the illegally operated and overflowing open dumpsites, there is a high degree of probability that preventable deaths and diseases, such as the dreaded dengue fever, will be reduced, if not annihilated.

With a concerted effort by stakeholders to capacitate and empower our people to “take control of their health”, there is hope of an improved health condition not just in Sambag 2, an area very near the regional office of the DOH, but everywhere.

The ongoing campaign in Sambag 2, including the challenge to perform the four o’clock habit (or whichever is the agreed time), should be replicated in all the barangays in Cebu and the country. The community activity is a constant reminder for all to be serious in our quest for ecological sanity.

How alarming is the prevalence of dengue cases? A nagging question, especially when this writer was recently told by a resident in Toledo City of the high incidence of dengue fever in Lutopan. This is a matter that should be investigated and treated with utmost urgency and prioritization by the stakeholders, especially the public officials.

It is easy to talk about a possible nuclear power plant (and a looming Chernobyl disaster) for Cebu – a high maintenance and very expensive project which we simply cannot afford. We cannot even manage a simple matter such as handling properly our waste or even sustain health and sanitation programs, which cost much less.

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Author: pchan_august

Juris Doctor (Law) Graduate. Iskolar ng Bayan. Activist. Environmentalist. Frustrated Singer, Poet and Writer. Computer Enthusiast. Servant of the Masses. God's Servant.

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