As the Philippines enters the peak typhoon season, small islands like Marinduque are placed at a higher risk to extreme weather events — a looming plight that coincides with the still existing COVID-19 pandemic.
When there is an impending weather event, it is vital to assess its health risks to vulnerable communities. This will enable locals and officials to act and prepare with sufficient time to avoid threats to health, harm, and casualties. Coupled with early warning systems, populations at greater risk will be equipped with proper tools to get useful information for better disaster preparedness and response.
This is the impetus for Dr. Delia Senoro’s team at Mapua University in devising the eSalba mobile and web-based application that empowers both households and local government units (LGUs) to strengthen the health resiliency of small communities by enabling locals to report an incident to authorities, thereby allowing quicker and more coordinated disaster response of LGUs as it provides locations of reporters, responders, evacuation and health centers in the community.
As an assistive, modernized, and enhanced early warning and communication tool, one unique feature of eSalba is that it generates data for health vulnerability map of communities, allowing locals, decision-makers, and responders to view populations that are most vulnerable to health-related outcomes brought by disasters and other socioeconomic factors.
With the capability to warn about possible health disease outbreaks in a specific area, the app will strengthen preparedness and management of LGUs to both impending disasters and health-related problems as it provides useful information needed for short-term response and long-term policymaking, development, and improvement.
Planned to benefit the LGUs, particularly barangay and municipal health workers, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (DRRMOs) at the municipal and provincial level, the eSalba is expected to reach the communities in Marinduque before September 2020.
This initiative is a component of the program commonly referred to as D-HIVE (Development of Health Index: Vulnerability to Extreme Environmental Events) for Marinduque Island, funded under the Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA) research program of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).
The app has undergone its first test run last June 29, 2020 which was participated in by 42 Marinduque locals composed of barangay officials, local health workers, SK Chairperson, MDRRMO staff, and D-HIVE Team.