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Saturday, May 18, 2024

PhilHealth airs heat alert

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Hotter temperatures forecast in May—PAGASA

PhilHealth has cautioned the public against heat stroke amid record high temperatures as the state weather bureau warned Monday of possibly even hotter weather in May amid the El Niño phenomenon.

PhilHealth recently increased its heat stroke benefit package by 30 percent from P6,500 to P8,450.

“If members or their dependents need to be admitted to any PhilHealth-accredited health facilities due to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, PhilHealth provides a benefit package amounting to P8,450,” said PhilHealth chief Emmanuel Ledesma Jr.

On Monday, 36 locations across the country were placed under the “danger category” for having a heat index of 42 to 51 degrees Celsius.

PAGASA weather specialist John Manalo said the hot temperature might only begin to ease in June.

“We expect the number of areas under the danger category to increase. We expect the heat index magnitude to also increase as we approach the first and second week of May,” Manalo said.

Ledesma reminded PhilHealth members that heat stroke is a medical emergency.

“Let us stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures; wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and use hats or umbrellas; and take regular breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas,” he said.

“At the first instance when one shows signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion such as fatigue, dizziness, headache, vomiting, and light-headedness, it is best to seek medical attention. Call our hotline (02) 8662-2588 and mobile numbers 0998-8572957, 0968-8654670, 0917-1275987 and 0917-1109812 so we can assist you,” Ledesma added.

To avoid heat-related illnesses, Health Secretary Teodoro Hermosa advised the public to avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

“This is an exposure illness. Let us avoid recreational activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Herbosa said.

“Use a wet towel and hydrate. My tip for hydration is very simple – get a glass of water, add a pinch of salt, then you will have electrolytes,” the DOH chief added.

For his part, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday urged the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to revert to the June to March academic calendar.

DepEd earlier suspended in-person classes in all public schools for two days due to the extreme heat.

Many schools in the country have no air-conditioning, leaving students to swelter in crowded, poorly ventilated classrooms.

Zubiri said he withdrew his proposed Senate Bill No. 788 that seeks to synchronize the school year to start in August.

“In an ideal world, we do want to be in sync with international school calendars to give our students a better chance at getting into programs abroad. But the reality is that the August calendar has proven to be disruptive to our education system, and even dangerous to the health of our children and school staff,” Zubiri said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, noted concerns over the potential learning losses of school-aged children, especially for those who have unstable internet access at home with the suspension of in-person classes due to the extreme heat.

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