South Cotabato  eyes  malaria-free province status

  • April 06, 2016

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)


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