April M. Montes
DAGUPAN CITY – The declaration of Pangasinan as a malaria-free province this 2016 has become achievable following the current trend of no indigenous malaria case reported by health authorities for five consecutive years.
According to Provincial Health Officer Anna Maria Teresa De Guzman, participation of local government units (LGUs) and increased awareness of people in communities for the sustainable implementation of programs and strategies to eradicate malaria have contributed in attaining Pangasinan’s zero malaria status from 2011 to 2015.
De Guzman noted that malaria-free Pangasinan is virtually attained as reflected in reports gathered by the Malaria Control Program team of the Provincial Health Office (PHO).
A certification which shall be issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Department of Health (DOH) officials who will validate malaria situation in Pangasinan this first quarter of 2016 will be the basis for the declaration of a malaria-free Pangasinan.
Malaria remains a public health concern in the Philippines being ranked as 9th major cause of diseases nationwide, threatening the lives of about 12 million Filipinos with a rough estimate of 110 people getting sick of malaria every day, a DOH report stated.
An anopheles mosquito has been identified as malaria-carrier.
De Guzman assured that despite no single indigenous malaria case was monitored, malaria surveillance teams continue to monitor endemic or high-risk areas which include 28 barangays in towns of Agno, Bani, Burgos, Dasol, Infanta, Mabini, Mangatarem, San Nicolas, Sison and Sual.
An indigenous malaria case implies that malaria was acquired through mosquito-borne local transmission.
Provincial Malaria Coordinator Eugenio Carlos Paragas noted that strategies shifting from control to total eradication of malaria have been adopted in high-risk areas where education and information campaigns (EICs) on malaria prevention, which include distribution of mosquito nets and clearing of surroundings, have been regularly conducted.
Paragas added that fogging have been jointly-conducted by LGUs on their border operations in mountainous areas within the territorial jurisdictions.
Owing to the support of LGUs for the sustainable implementation of malaria control programs, De Guzman said that municipal and city LGUs have already passed local ordinances with appropriate funding for malaria control programs in their respective communities.
“There is really a big change with the practices of people living in areas endemic of malaria, particularly on their increased awareness for malaria prevention,” she added. (MCA/AMM/PIA-1, Pangasinan with reports from PIO)