By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
MARAWI CITY: Local chief executives in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are using digital thematic overlay maps to monitor and trace coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
Used at first to point out geophysical hazard areas and violent conflicts in these provinces, officials have found the cutting-edge maps to easily identify persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs) for Covid-19.
Najib Zacaria, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction officer and operations chief of the Interagency Command Center of Marantao in Lanao del Sur, said the physical maps with satellite imagery helped him and his team identify PUMs and PUIs; visualize and plan out the deployment of basic commodities to the affected communities; and allow medical workers to continuously monitor their health condition.
“The maps also ensured that we were covering all the communities in our outreach areas, thereby preventing complaints and disputes,” Zackaria said.
Printed in large format, they show the spatial features of provincial, municipal and barangay (village) boundaries, road and river networks, geohazard vulnerabilities, and conflict flashpoints.
Places where Covid-19 cases emerge or are concentrated are superimposed into these maps, enabling local governments to respond more effectively and quickly to areas and communities where virus infections, local vulnerabilities, and violent tensions and pressures converge.
The only inter-agency task force using these advanced maps in the entire Bangsamoro region is the unit composed of the provincial government of Lanao del Sur, and the municipal governments of Marantao, Piagapo and Saguiaran in the same province, and the municipal governments of Parang, Barira, Buldon, and Matanog in the province of Maguindanao.
May Quesada, Municipal Planning and Development officer of Parang, Maguindanao said “the maps enabled Barangay Health Emergency Response Team to mark the barangay where the PUMs and PUIs are from and locate the nearest rural health units as possible isolation centers.”
The new tools were made possible with the help of International Alert Philippines, which produced the large format printed and digital maps. It receives funding support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government.
Saripada Pacasum Jr., head of the Early Response Network of Lanao del Sur noted that they are seeing tensions rise because the virus has taken away the capacity of people to earn, deepening the hardship of people in Marawi who are already impoverished by war and displacement.
Covid-19 cases decrease
BARMM-Integrated Provincial Health Office chief Dr. Allen Minalang reported Covid-19 cases in Lanao del Sur have gone down in the last five days.
Minalang said the total number of PUIs was down to 10 from 30 while the two confirmed Covid-19 positive cases recovered and were discharged from the Amai Pakpak Medical Center on April 1.
BARMM Health Minister Dr. Saffarullah Dipatuan confirmed in a regional office press conference in Cotabato City that one PUI is still on strict home quarantine.
(This article LGUs use tech maps for Covid-19 tracing first appeared at The Manila Times.)