Monday, September 10, 2012

Catanduanes Embarks Anti-Malaria Campaign

The provincial government of Catanduanes has vowed to strengthen its anti-malaria advocacy by embracing the new form of campaign introduced by the Department of Health (DOH) to totally eliminate the dreaded disease in the country.

The DOH's new campaign being carried out nationwide under the theme "Saving Lives, Preventing Deaths and Sustaining Investment for Malaria" and highlighted by the "Traveling Long-Lasting Insecticidal Net (LLIN)" is aimed at cutting malaria incidence by 2015 in the country in line with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

The campaign wherein the DOH and its partners distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets in malaria-endemic areas was recently launched in Bicol. The net symbolizes the government's effort and struggle against malaria by travelling to each province until all provinces have eliminated the disease.

Camilo Aquino, the DOH's Regional Mosquito Borne Diseases coordinator based at the regional Center for Health and Development (CHD) for Bicol here over the weekend said the provincial government of Catanduanes through its governor Joseph Cua readily accepted the advocacy campaign during a ceremonial transfer on Friday.

During the ceremonies, Cua led the affixing of the provincial logo at the governor's office on the ceremonial LLIN as a symbol of full adoption of the campaign, Aquino said.

"The LLIN will serve as a reminder to every malaria endemic areas up to malaria-free provinces that the government is serious in its campaign to totally eradicate the occurrence of the fatal disease in the Philippines," according to Aquino.

The campaign in Bicol is a shift from malaria eradication to elimination involving areas that have already been noted as malaria-free based on assessment that reported no incidence of malaria in all parts of the region for at least three years.

Reports of the DOH on the malaria situation in Bicol show that the prevalence and death rate of the disease in the region were zero percent from 2006 to 2010. The latest rate of morbidity registered at 0.7 percent was in 2005 with no mortality since 1990. The rate is computed based on per 100,000 population.

With this development in Bicol, the DOH, along with its partners in anti-malaria advocacy such as the local government units, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global-Fund Malaria through the Filipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. is now embarking on the new advocacy campaign in the region.

The campaign's theme "Saving Lives, Preventing Deaths and Sustaining Investment for Malaria" would be the principle that will support malaria control programs with the objective of totally eliminating the disease in the country.

Under the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP), the target year for total eradication of malaria in the country is 2016 while total elimination target is on year 2025.

The DOH is confident to meet the elimination ahead of the target year saying that in 2020, the entire Philippines could be malaria-free based on positive trends that showed an 80 percent decrease in malaria incidence last year or from 43,441 cases in 2003 down to 9,642 in 2011.

This decrease is the lowest malaria level on record for the country in 42 years which means that Philippines is effectively meeting its MDG of cutting malaria incidence by 2015.

The WHO likewise revealed that death from malaria in the country had been declining by 63 percent since 2005. However, it remains a significant problem, now the eight leading cause of illness affecting up to 10.2 million people worldwide. Ninety percent of malaria cases are found in the poorest provinces.

High-risk provinces in the country, according to the DOH include Tawi-tawi, Occidental Mindoro, Bulacan and Tarlac that are presently being carefully monitored and provided with free medicines for those diagnosed with the disease and vector control measures including insecticide-treated mosquito nets to affected areas.

Other areas of concern are the provinces of Palawan and Tawi-Tawi which reported more than 1,000 cases a year and Sulu, Maguindanao and Zambales that have more than 100 cases but less than 500 cases a year.

At least 24 provinces on the other hand have been declared malaria- free midway 2012, which translates into having recorded no malaria cases for three years while 34 provinces have reached the free elimination level in 2011 or less than one case of malaria for every 1,000 population.

In spite of Bicol's malaria–free status, Aquino still warned Bicolanos from becoming complacent of the non- existence of the mosquitoes carrying the disease.

"We should exert more effort to ensure that there is no way that this contagious disease will again find its way in our homes and in our community. Let us all continue, with renewed efforts, what we have started to make our neighborhood free from malaria," he said.

LLIN is the government's main defense now against mosquitoes that brings malaria, a disease caused by a parasite transmitted via bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. If can also be transmitted through blood transfusion or from pregnant mother to child.

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