KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Apr. 6 (PIA) -- Health officials here are confident that the World Health Organization and the Department of Health will declare South Cotabato as malaria-free province.
"We are positive we will achieve our goal," said Jose Barroquillo, mosquito-borne diseases focal person of the Integrated Provincial Health Office said, referring to the upcoming assessment by the WHO and DOH on the nomination of South Cotabato as a “malaria-free province.”
From 2010 until 2015, South Cotabato has maintained zero "indigenous" cases of the viral disease transmitted by a mosquito, particularly of the genus Anopheles, he elaborated.
"Although in 2015 and early this year, South Cotabato recorded four cases of malaria, these cases were 'imported,' meaning, the patients acquired malaria from other places and were diagnosed to have been infected when they returned to the province. These won't affect our bid to be declared malaria-free,” he continued.
Two of the latest cases were infected while they employed abroad. One got the disease while working in Maguindanao province and the other one -- a member of the Armed Forces of Philippines – acquired malaria while he was deployed in Sultan Kudarat province.
Barroquillo said representatives of the WHO and DOH are coming to South Cotabato around the last week of April to assess the provincial government's claims and accomplishments and determine if laboratories and other facilities are in place and functional. This is the last hurdle the provincial government needs to surpass to attain the title, he added.
He recounted that South Cotabato's intensified campaign to control malaria began in 2004. Strategies include early detection and treatment of malaria cases, distribution of insecticide treated mosquito nets, residual spraying in areas where Anopheles mosquitoes are found, regular inter-border operation in villages along the boundaries with Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces.
"Sultan Kudarat had a malaria outbreak in 2015 and reported over 200 cases. We were able to prevent entry of the disease through intensified monitoring and massive information campaign in villages at the boundary," he said
Barroquillo attributed the success of its anti-malaria campaign to its partnership health workers, communities, local government units, the Department of Health and nongovernment organizations such as the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc., Mahintana Foundation Inc. Save the Children and many others.
From 2010 until 2015, Pilipinas Shell Foundation donated over 218,000 chemically treated mosquito nets, which were distributed to residents of barangays with presence of the vector mosquitoes, he noted.
"South Cotabato's efforts are in accordance with the goal of the Department of Health for the country to be malaria-free by 2020," Barroquillo said.
According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and an estimated 438,000 deaths due to malaria worldwide in 2015. Some 88 percent of the new cases and 90 percent of the deaths were accounted from the African Region. (DEDoguiles-PIA 12)