Palawan is the only province in the Philippines where malaria still exists, the Department of Health (DOH).

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Maria Rosario Vergeire, the health department’s officer-in-charge, stated that 80 of the country’s 81 provinces are now considered malaria-free.

“At this current time, 80 out of the 81 provinces in the country are all malaria-free already. Iisa na lang po at ‘yun ang Palawan,” she said.

The health department, Vergeire said, is working closely with Palawan and other members of the private sector like the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) and the World Health Organization for the province to become malaria-free.

READ RELATED STORY: Zero malaria cases in Palawan, achievable by 2025

“Syempre alam natin it’s not just yong mosquito kundi yong environment where the mosquito thrives para ating ma prevent itong transmission ng sakit na ito,” she explained.

In accordance with Department Circular 2021-0248, in order for a province to be deemed malaria-free, it must have recorded zero cases within the past five years.

“Ang criteria nito is the absence of local transmission of malaria for the past 5 years. Meron tayong mga ginagawang pag-aaral dyan sa mga lugar na atin pong nakikita na meron silang endemic areas for malaria,” Vergeire said.

She said four provinces—Oriental Mindoro, Rizal, Aurora, and Cotabato—were declared malaria-free last year.

Based on DOH data, malaria incidence in the country declined from 48,569 in 2003  to 6,120 87% in 2020.

Mortality due to malaria has also drastically declined from 162 in 2003 to just three or 98% in 2020.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.