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PHILIPPINES: Infant dies of severe malnutrition and a hunger related disease in General Santos City, Mindanao

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

29 September 2005
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HA-26-2005: PHILIPPINES: Infant dies of severe malnutrition and a hunger related disease in General Santos City, Mindanao

PHILIPPINES: Hunger related death; severe malnutrition
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that an 11-month-old baby, John Paul Mahinay, died of severe malnutrition and a hunger related disease in General Santos City, Mindanao on 19 September 2005. The victim's parents, Darwin (22) and Maricel (22) Mahinay, belong to a poor family suffering from abject poverty. Soup containing boiled grind rice was fed to the baby as a replacement for milk.

The Mahinays are among the many poor families living in depressed areas in General Santos City, Mindanao, where starvation and hunger due to abject poverty are a part of everyday life. The AHRC has previously reported a similar hunger case in the city. Please see our previous appeal (HA-22-2005).

Your immediate intervention is needed to pressure the city government of General Santos, in particular the office of the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWDO) to immediately take action to end starvation and hunger and to prevent the needless deaths of innocent victims from occurring further.

Urgent Appeals Desk ? Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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DETAILED INFORMATION

Name of the baby: John Paul Mahinay (11-months old). His parents are Darwin (22) and Maricel (22) Mahinay
Date and place of his death: 4am on 19 September 2005 at the Diagan Hospital, General Santos City
Cause of his death: Infectious Amoebiasis, severe malnutrition
Location: Purok 8, Lanton, Barangay Apopong, General Santos City, Mindanao

Case details:

On 19 September 2005, John Paul Mahinay (11 months) died while being treated at the Diagan Hospital in General Santos City for the hunger related disease, Amoebiasis, and malnutrition. Despite physicians providing John Paul medication after they discovered that he was suffering from Amoebiasis weeks prior to his death, the little boy never recovered.

When John Paul fell sick, his parents Darwin and Maricel struggled to raise money to purchase the required medication. Even though the family is considered indigent due to their living conditions, they were not afforded free medical services nor were they given medicines for the treatment of their baby. It was learned that the baby did not even receive vitamin or food supplements from the village's health center.

Despite the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) paying for the victim's coffin for burial, financial assistance was not forthcoming to assist the parents in paying their hospital bill. The family therefore, was unable to raise sufficient money to cover their costs. However, with the help of their relatives, the family have now been able to pay their hospital bill.

The Mahinays are a poor family who struggle each day to provide themselves with a minimum of food. The victim's father, Darwin, is a labourer working at the city's seaports. He earns only P300 to P500 (USD 5.45 to 9) per week. With his earnings, the family cannot afford healthy or sufficient food. There are days where they do not eat at all.

According to Maricel it was only during John Paul’s first two months that he was fed with milk, after which point they were forced to feed him with a soup of boiled grind rice as a replacement. Her other child, Daryl (5) is also not receiving sufficient or nutritious food. Like his baby brother, Daryl is also not able to access food or vitamin supplements from the village's health center.

Maricel herself is malnourish and for this reason was not able to breastfeed. She has also not been given any food or vitamin supplements from the village health center. This is the case for many undernourished mothers in the area.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to Mr. Pedro Acharon Jr., Mayor of the city of General Santos, Mindanao requesting him to immediately take steps to end starvation and hunger experienced by families living in depressed areas. The needless death of children due to hunger related disease and malnutrition must be stopped. Also please ask Mayor Acharon to afford appropriate assistance and livelihood to the Mahinay family.


Suggested letter:


Dear _________,

Re: Infant dies of severe malnutrition and a hunger related disease in General Santos City, Mindanao

Name of the baby: John Paul Mahinay (11-months old). His parents are Darwin (22) and Maricel (22) Mahinay
Date and place of his death: 4am on 19 September 2005 at the Diagan Hospital, General Santos City
Cause of his death: Infectious Amoebiasis, severe malnutrition
Location: Purok 8, Lanton, Barangay Apopong, General Santos City, Mindanao

I am writing to raise my serious concern regarding the death of an 11-month-old baby, John Paul Mahinay due to severe malnutrition and the hunger related disease, Amoebiasis, on 19 September 2005. Although I appreciate the City Social Welfare and Development's (DSWDO) effort to provide burial assistance to the victim, I am disappointed that nothing was afforded to the family other than this.

I have learned that the entire Mahinay family suffer from starvation and hunger due to the abject poverty they are forced to live in. At the time of his death, John Paul was fed only a soup of ground rice as a replacement for milk. Milk was only provided to him in the first two months of his life. The Mahinays struggle every day to provide sufficient food for the entire family, and on several days, they do not see a single meal.

Owing to the needless death of John Paul, I urge the local government, in particular the office of the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWDO) to take immediate measures to prevent any further such deaths of innocent children. The pressing problem of starvation and hunger amongst those living in depressed areas must be addressed without delay if this type of tragedy is to be avoided in the future.

I request the local government to afford appropriate assistance to the Mahinays, that addresses not only their short term needs, but those required for the long term future. They must be included on the list of indigent families so as to ensure that assistance is afforded to them. I also ask the CSWDO to provide food and vitamin supplements to Maricel Mahinay and her five-year-old child, Daryl to help improve their health.

Under Section 2 (1) of the Republic Act 8425, or the Social Reform and Poverty Act, the government is mandated by law to intervene to ensure that basic needs of poor Filipinos, in particular farmers, are met. Any action taken to address the plight of the Mahinay family and other families living in depressed areas in your city, must be in accordance with the provisions of this act.

I trust that you will take action in this case.

Yours sincerely,


___________________

PLEASE SEND A LETTER TO:

1. Mr. Pedro Acharon Jr.
City Mayor
Office of the City Mayor
City Hall Building
General Santos City
PHILIPPINES
Tel. No.: +63 83 552-7231
Fax No.: +63 83 554-4212

2. Ms. Zorahayda T. Taha
Regional Director
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD XII)
Koronadal Gymnasium
Koronadal City
PHILIPPINES
Tel. No.: +63 83 228-3180 / +63 83 228-36-07

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Sec. Datu Zamzamin L. Ampatuan, CESO I
Lead Convenor
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
3rd Floor, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI)
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Trunkline Nos. +63 2 426-5028/ +63 2 426-5019/
+63 2 426-4965/+63 2 426-4956
Fax No. +63 2 927-9838

2. Ms. Rosalinda Tolosa
Regional Director
Commission on Human Rights (CHR XII)
Sy Compound, Leon Lldio Street
Barangay Lagao
9500 General Santos City
PHILIPPINES
Tel/Fax: +63 83 553-8887
Cotabato City extension Office
Tel: +63 64 482-0384 / +63 64 421-6307

3. Dr. Nicolas Alipui
Resident representative
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
31/F Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza
Ayala Ave. cor. Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave.
Makati City, Metro Manila
PHILIPPINES
Telephone: +63 2 901-0173
Fax: +63 2 901-0195
Email: manila@unicef.org

4. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Attn: Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066, C/o OHCHR
CH-1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel.: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 917 9010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch

5. Mr. Anthony Banbury
Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor
Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 6554413
Email: Anthony.banbury@wfp.org or Bkk.unescap@un.org


Thank you

Urgent Appeals Desk -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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