Doc: Ban aerial spraying in T'boli

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Saturday, April 26, 2014


A MEDICAL officer of the T’boli Evangelical Clinic and Hospital (Tech) in T’boli, South Cotabato called for the banning of aerial spray as skin diseases have already afflicted some residents living near banana plantations in the area.

The Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (Maas), in a statement emailed to Sun.Star Davao on Saturday, said Tech director Dr. Levista Dagang, who appealed for their support, had issued a position paper asking to ban aerial spraying in the area.

The Maas and Interface Development Interventions (Idis) of Davao City earlier insisted that pesticides drift coming from an aerial spray plane causes sickness in neighboring communities, adding that they continue to receive complaints from residents living near banana plantations.

Dagan, in her position paper, revealed that their hospital has noted an outbreak of skin diseases in January and February this year, wherein a massive aerial spraying operation was conducted in a banana plantation 300 meters from the hospital.

“A low flying airplane traverses daily above the banana plantation, passing through our hospital from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. emitting yellow aerial particles with a very foul and offensive smell,” Dagan told the environmental advocates.

The doctor said that in two months of aerial sprayings, the hospital was able to document 28 patients, of which 16 were children, who experienced skin laceration.

She added that review of their medical history showed that these patients were exposed to aerial spray few days before they contacted the illness.

“About 80 percent of our cases with hypersensitivity reaction were all attributed to aerial spray. The skin lesions are described as reddish, raised macular lesions, very itchy and some eventually became infected because of unclean hands used in scratching, leading to fever and chills due to cellulitis,” Dagan said.

Maas president Dagohoy Magaway said the medical officer was concerned that while the symptoms can be managed short-term with the proper medication, the long-term systematic effects is another matter since it takes a while for the negative effects to manifest in a person affected by the toxic chemicals.

Dagan said those affected are poor rural residents who do not have the financial resources to go to a tertiary hospital for medical treatment.

Magaway said same cases were also documented in the Camocaan Study conducted by the Department of Health in 2009. He added that a same reason why the Department of Health is also calling for a ban of the aerial spray, however, the Department of Agriculture is still ignoring the recommendations.

The Maas and Idis called on the affected residents of T'boli to organize themselves and campaign for the banning of the aerial spray, adding that they should not sit down and wait for the agricultural companies to voluntarily stop such agriculture practices.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 27, 2014.

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