(Photo from WHO)

As part of its overall effort to eradicate malaria in Palawan, the Department of Health (DOH) in Mimaropa has enacted a program providing an additional P4,000 per month to health workers involved in its surveys and tracking activities from April-December 2024.

The honorarium was limited to certain slots in areas with the highest number of cases, according to Oscar Macam Jr., Vector Borne Disease Program Manager for DOH Mimaropa during the Kapihan with SM on April 25, 2024.

“Ang sinasabi ng mga provincial coordinators natin dito, kaya hindi pumapasok sa [malaria cases] training ang ating mga health workers ay dahil napakababa po ng honorarium na narereceive nila. Ngayon nag-open po kami sa national na Kagawaran ng Kalusugan para makatulong doon sa health workers,” he said.

This honorarium pay was separate from the funding given by other sectors from the municipalities of Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, and Quezon. Macam said that the health workers will be paid P 200 per day, Monday to Friday, with a possibility of higher pay depending on the terms of the medium-term plan.

“Ninety-five 95 volunteers na ang nabigyan [sa Palawan]. Bale sa isang month ay nasa 4000. Pero ang alam ko dito sa inyo, yung proviso ay may magbibigay ng 1000 sa Sunday, yung LGU, 600 (…) Yung sa amin, kung kokumputahin natin 4000,” Macan added.

He said that the largest number of slots for the program were 25 in Rizal. More slots will be given to certain municipalities next year so that the health workers can focus on surveying malaria cases.

Macan recommended that the health workers looking to apply for this program should come from the affected municipalities themselves, so that they won’t have to spend additional pay for rapid tests and transportation.

He also added that the health workers would be more in tune with the community, especially those too far-flung to be reached by normal government services.

“Ang ating mga IPs, almost 99.9%, lahat sila ay nagpopositive sa malaria. (…) Parang isang step na lang nasa heaven na ang kanilang tirahan (…) Ngayon ay nagkaroon kami ng orientation para sa additional incentives para sa health workers. Nangangako po ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan national office na magdadagdag ng pondo para sa mga health workers na ito na hanapain ang mga cases sa bundok,” Macam explained.

He also added that the anti-malarial medicine was free for indigent and IP patients. He explained that unlike dengue, malaria medicine at least stopped the transmission of the malaria parasite, and was not easily deadly.

Out of over 1000 confirmed malaria cases this year alone, only two died- though Macam mentioned that they still had to validate whether malaria was the proximate cause.

“Kasi ang principle dito, kapag wala nang [malaria] parasite sa mga katutubo ay kahit araw-araw na kagatin sila anopheles (…) ay wala pong mangyayaring transmission. Plus, magkakaroon ng master administration kung saan kahit wala nang testing, bibigyan na rin sila ng gamot na parang prophylaxis,” he said, adding that the anti-malarial medicine was used in Cambodia, which had a similar environment to Palawan.

Furthermore, Macam said that the program might stretch to next year if malaria cases kept rising.