PCP presents role of physicians in helping oil spill-affected residents, areas

At a glance

  • Photo: Shoreline assessment and clean up spearheaded by the Philippine Coast Guard in Oriental Mindoro (Courtesy of PCG)

A health expert said there are various ways on how Filipino physicians could extend help to victims of the massive oil spill incident in Oriental Mindoro and nearby provinces.

In a health forum held Tuesday, March 21, Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) Crisis Preparedness and Management Committee Chairperson Dr. Kenneth Coo said physicians play a vital role in ensuring the well being of residents near the oil-spill affected areas.

“We can manage the recent Mindoro oil spill. We can [extend] help [to oil-spill affected areas and there] are rules,” said Coo.

Covering the four basic phases of disaster management — the mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery — Coo explained how physicians as well as health organizations could extend help in times of calamity.


“Response” entails managing the immediate health impact of the disaster, which in this case is a massive oil spill.

“Our response should be to play a critical role in providing care to patients during and immediately [after the] emergency at both the hospital and community levels. We [can] look for toxicity of hydrocarbons [and determine] the health problems [caused by] this oil spill,” said Coo.

Coo, however, highlighted that the containment of the spread of the oil spill should be handed over to the authorities.

“What we can do is engage with the local government units [and] talk to them about the toxic effects of hydrocarbons [especially for] people who will eat fish affected by the oil spill,” he explained.

Recovery, Mitigation, Preparation

According to Coo, in order to restore oil spill-affected communities back to its previous state, physicians could help identify the long term health effects of the unfortunate event and how residents can alleviate its effects.

“[We could help] identify long term diseases [that may be] caused by the oil spill and coordinate with the authorities when it would be safe to eat seafood in the area,” he added.

Meanwhile, under the mitigation and preparation stage, health experts can help come up with plans to ensure the safety of communities in times of disasters. These may be in the form of emergency or continuity plans as well as rules that may help residents deal with emergencies.