By DANILDA L. FUSILERO
KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Philippines — Cases of Malaria, a parasite-caused disease, has dramatically decreased in the province in the last four years.
The result is attributed to the Department of Health’s (DOH) coordination with its partner organizations and agencies to employ “key interventions with regard to malaria control.”
From the 267 confirmed cases in 2008, there are only two recorded cases as of June this year, a report of the Movement Against Malaria (Mam) showed.
“This is in line with our efforts in the program and the DOH to eliminate Malaria disease by 2020,” Mam said in a press release.
The DOH’s 2011-2016 Malaria Program Medium Term Plan aims to ensure universal access to reliable diagnosis, highly effective, and appropriate treatment and preventive measures; capacitate local government units (LGUs) to own, manage, and sustain the Malaria Program in their respective localities; sustain financing of anti-malaria efforts at all levels of operation; and ensure a functioning quality assurance system for malaria operations.
In its website, the DOH said, Malaria is the ninth leading cause of morbidity in the Philippines. It is usually acquired through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito and can be transmitted in three ways: blood transfusion from an infected individual, sharing of intravenous needles and transplacenta or the transfer of malaria parasites from an infected mother to its unborn child.
As of 2012, 58 out of 81 provinces in the country are declared malaria endemic with 14 million people at risk, the DOH said. It added, 90% of Malaria cases were recorded in 25 endemic provinces or areas among the poorest in the country with forestal, swampy, hilly and mountainous characteristics. Notable symptoms of Malaria include high fever, severe headaches, chills and profuse sweating.
In North Cotabato where 14 municipalities are categorized as malaria endemic areas, Mam said that there are 31 Malaria diagnostic facilities, nine rapid diagnostic sites and five barangay malaria microscopy centers.
“These facilities and centers help us in the early detection of malaria infections,” said Gladys Amita, Mam’s program officer for North Cotabato.
Meanwhile, Ma. Elvy Robles-Dominicata, Mam program’s regional head in South Cotabato-Cotabato City-Sultan Kudarat areas (Soccska) attributed the decreasing cases of malaria infections to their aggressive monitoring and detection.
She added that since 2007 they have been distributing Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets, sprayed houses and re-treated conventional nets throughout the Soccska regional cluster which covered the provinces of Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and North and South Cotabato.
Governors in North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat and the mayor in Gen. Santos City have signed a Manifesto of Support signifying to continue the DOH and Mam’s program even after its project term and institutionalize the Malaria Control Stratification down to the barangay level.
Dominicata however lamented the absence of support from the LGUs and the difficulty in monitoring correct usage of the insecticide-treated nets.
“There are LGUs that can’t afford to allocate funds on Malaria control should the program’s external funding ends,” she said.
Only sustained campaign and preventive activities can eliminate Malaria in the province and in the country, Dominicata said, adding that, there must be an early diagnostic with prompt treatment services.
She said, LGUs also need to install an efficient Malaria surveillance system especially in areas with mobile population since mobile people could be a carrier of the disease. (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)World