Army health experts fight disease in Philippines
16 December 2013
Environmental Health Team specialists from Army’s 2nd General Health Battalion are hard at work in Ormoc, Philippines, testing drinking water and controlling mosquitoes at schools to stop insect-borne diseases.
The ‘healthies’ are part of the Recovery Support Force, working with engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment to clean up schools, allowing thousands of local children to get back into classes over the past week.
Mosquitoes are ‘vectors’ that transmit diseases to humans such as dengue fever. The health team are testing water and using various chemical treatments to still water, vegetation and classrooms to kill the insects and stop them breeding.
The team also test water supplies to ensure they are safe for use in the schools.
Lieutenant Warren Henry, from 2nd General Health Battalion, said the team were doing the testing and mosquito control because the typhoon left a lot of standing water around the schools.
“We have set up our own laboratory back at the camp (and) do all the water testing in-house. We do all the mosquito identification, we grow the mosquitoes from the larvae into the adults so we can identify what they are and whether they transmit disease or not,” Lieutenant Henry said.
The risk of dengue fever is significant so the Environmental Health Team apply chemicals to the exterior of the school buildings and standing water to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area.
Sergeant Emma Franklin, also of 2nd General Health Battalion, used a chemical growth regulator to standing water near a school to stop the mosquito larvae becoming adults and reduce the numbers of mosquitoes in the area.
“We are doing this to help with the schools so the children can come back and reduce their threat of disease,” she said.
“Being here in the Philippines is really rewarding. It is a good feeling to know that you are actually making a difference. You are helping the local people get back to normal life especially with getting children back to school.”