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Sunday, July 17. 2011

WESCOM fights cholera with newest water purifi­ca­tion machine

ISABELA CITY, Basilan (Philippines)— The Western Command (WESCOM), has deployed its newest water purifi­ca­tion machine to barangay Culandanum in the munic­i­pal­i­ty of Bataraza in Palawan to help its res­i­dents recov­er from the trag­ic cholera out­break that struck the vil­lage, last March that left at least 27 per­sons dead.

The 6th Civil Relations Group of the AFP said in a state­ment the project was imple­ment­ed in part­ner­ship with the National Development Support Command (NADESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Marine Forces in the Pacific (MARFORPAC) of the United States of America to pre­vent anoth­er occur­rence of the calami­tous inci­dent.

The water purifi­ca­tion sys­tem brought by the WESCOM and NADESCOM per­son­nel head­ed by 1Lt Dennis S. Martinez is being used to decon­t­a­m­i­nate water from the sources found in Bgy Culandanum so that its res­i­dents may have safe drink­ing water.

With the assis­tance of ele­ments of the 12th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-12), WESCOM and NADESCOM have been dis­trib­ut­ing puri­fied drink­ing water to the res­i­dents of the cholera-afflict­ed vil­lage for two weeks already.

They are using the machine to decon­t­a­m­i­nate water from the water cis­tern locat­ed at the Barangay Hall of Culandanum. Commercial jer­ry cans are used to dis­trib­ute the puri­fied water to approx­i­mate­ly 1,200 house­holds liv­ing in the barangay.

Barangay chair­man Joel Pundales said the water purifi­ca­tion sys­tem was a big help to the cri­sis they are fac­ing. According to him, tests con­duct­ed revealed that almost all of the water from the sources found in their vil­lage is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed.

On April 1 this year, barangay Culandanum has declared a state of calami­ty after 27 per­sons were report­ed to have died from cholera in under a month. Seven of the vic­tims, accord­ing to the barangay chair­man, have suc­cumbed to the dis­ease a few min­utes after each oth­er.

This month, the barangay health office of Culandanum has received four cholera-relat­ed cas­es. On July 6, anoth­er patient from Sitio Linao of Bgy Culandanum was report­ed to have died from the ill­ness.

Pundales lament­ed the absence of a safe source, potable water in their barangay. To counter the prob­lem, the barangay has dis­trib­uted water purifi­ca­tion tablet to the house­holds, but this, accord­ing to the barangay chair­man, is tem­po­rary and lim­it­ed.

In response to the sit­u­a­tion, WESCOM, in coor­di­na­tion with the NADESCOM, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the local gov­ern­ment of Bataraza and its Rural Health Unit (RHU), sent trained oper­a­tors of the water purifi­ca­tion machine, known as ASPEN 2000DM, to Bgy Culandanum to pro­vide safe drink­ing water to its pop­u­lace.

The [ASPEN] machine, which uti­lizes reverse osmo­sis tech­nol­o­gy, boasts of being the most com­pact, ver­sa­tile, full-fea­tured, com­put­er-con­trolled, ener­gy effi­cient, mobile reverse osmo­sis sys­tem avail­able today.

It is capa­ble of fresh­wa­ter and sea­wa­ter purifi­ca­tion and can pro­duce 2000 gal­lons per day of clean, potable water when using fresh­wa­ter sources and 1800 gal­lons of the same when using salt water.

It was donat­ed to the AFP by the United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) at the con­clu­sion of the most recent Balikatan Exercises between the US and the Philippine armed forces.

The machine was ini­tial­ly deployed to Culandanum for 30 days and or until it is need­ed.

Selected per­son­nel of the MBLT-12 are also under­go­ing train­ing on oper­at­ing the machine so that they may be able to oper­ate the equip­ment by them­selves when NADESCOM per­son­nel go back to Manila.

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