The Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA is hopeful that the province of Palawan can attain its target of being malaria-free by 2020, according to Regional Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo.
Janairo, who is in this city for the National Malaria Awareness Day-9th Malaria Congress, said Wednesday morning that the province might already be malaria-free by next year because the DOH-MIMAROPA is certain to give “all out support” to the target.
“Yes, we hope we can achieve that. There is a possibility that it might be achieved, especially next year because we will give all the support. We don’t care whether fund is from foreign-assisted project or local-assisted project but MIMAROPA Region will do something about that. We will put funds into it,” Janairo said.
The regional health director added it is about time “everybody should be worried about malaria” as the Philippines has experienced it for so many years.
“We have malaria for so many years… generations… hundreds of years… and until now, the focus that is given still seem minimal. The simple way to get rid of it is for people to mobilize themselves, and to maintain a clean environment,” he added.
It also has to be understood, he explained, that malaria’s eradication can be partly caused by development or urbanization.
“But we have to understand that malaria, its elimination, is through development or urbanization. All areas in Manila used to have malaria in the past. But now it has almost zero malaria because the breeding areas are no longer conducive for them. Change of environment can cause removal of malaria,” he explained.
However, he said that in MIMAROPA, particularly in Palawan, there is no need to change the environment. The only need is for residents to keep them clean.
Janairo said malaria prevention methods that are due for implementation by the regional health office are the fitting of all public and private school windows with screens, and the regular conduct of airborne spraying of insect repellent compounds to control mosquito population.
The other prevention method, he furthered, is the conduct of blood testing or smearing for malaria parasite on all population to ensure they are disease-free.
“You cannot say that a person has no malaria unless he/she is tested. Here in Palawan, if you think that a person has no malaria because he/she is not showing symptoms, you can still be wrong as there are asymptomatic cases,” Janairo stated, adding they have proven it.
“We have to test each and every inhabitant in Palawan for malaria, and the other provinces in MIMAROPA,” he stated.
According to Palawan’s control program Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (KLM), an estimated 53,451 cases of malaria were recorded in 1999 with 85 deaths.
By 2014, the figure downgraded to 4,206 cases with five mortalities, but increased again to 7,437 in 2015 with 13 deaths. All would amount to 86 percent decrease in cases, and the same percentage in deaths.
From January to present this year, the KLM recorded again a 41 percent decrease or 3,400 cases out of 146,256 tested compared to the same period in 2016 that logged 6,136 cases.
The Top 5 municipalities with the highest cases of malaria this year are Rizal with 1,294 cases; Balabac with 686; Bataraza with 656; Brooke’s Point with 360 and Quezon with 142 – all in southern Palawan. In Puerto Princesa, 91 cases were still recorded.
No case has been documented in the municipalities of Busuanga, Culion, Coron, and Linapacan in the Calamianes Islands Group in the northern part of the province.
“Despite this, we still cannot say these towns are malaria-free. We need to validate,” Janairo said.