Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial on Thursday said 59 refugees from Marawi City have died due to various illnesses, 19 inside evacuation centers and 40 others outside the camps.
Ubial clarified that the victims died because of disease, not because of stray bullets or bombs during the ongoing conflict.
She said the 19 people who died in evacuation centers were already suffering from diseases before they were brought inside the camps.
“The 40 evacuees staying outside the evacuation centers died of dehydration,” the Health chief said.
Ubial said some evacuees suffering from kidney disease were undergoing dialysis while the others who died of cancer and heart ailments were able to undergo treatment at government hospitals.
The DoH has set up 68 evacuation centers for the 20,627 persons or 4,249 families who had fled Marawi City because of the fighting.
Evacuation centers were put up in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City and Lanao del Sur.
The Health department said common diseases in the camps were acute gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea and skin diseases.
According to DoH evacuation data, of the 280,581 people who fled Marawi because of the crisis, only 20,627 persons are housed in evacuation camps while 280,581 evacuees are living with either relatives or friends.
Ubial said doctors and health workers are doing daily rounds to check on evacuees who need medical attention.
“The thousands of evacuees staying outside the evacuation camps are our major health concern in terms of how fast our physicians and health workers can attend to them,” Ubial said.
She said she had directed the DoH in Mindanao to launch a campaign advising Marawi evacuees staying outside the shelters to immediately visit the village, town and city health centers and hospitals for free medicines, treatment and confinement should they become sick.
A total of 1,290 patients have been referred to various hospitals, 178 of whom were admitted, and 467 were treated as out-patients. The rest were given medical attention and sent home.
AND RHAYDZ B. BARCIA