The site of the future IP village at Sitio Bayabas, Barangay Bunog, Rizal. Also in photo are Marvi Trudeau, program director of the PSFI in Palawan (4th from left, in a yellow polo shirt); DOH assistant secretary Maria Francia Laxamana (4th from left, in floral blouse); DOH regional director Mario Baquilod, and other town officials. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Information Agency/Palawan)

An indigenous peoples (IP) village will soon rise in Rizal town, southern Palawan, as a one-of-a-kind prevention strategy to defeat malaria in the province by 2022.

The groundbreaking for the planned IP village was held on Wednesday, March 20, at Sitio Bayabas, Barangay Bunog in Rizal municipality.

It is a partnership project among the Department of Health (DOH) through the MIMAROPA region, the municipal government of Rizal, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) represented by its program manager Marvi Trudeau, and other line agencies.

DOH MIMAROPA regional director Dr. Mario Baquilod said indigenous peoples in Rizal will reside in the village to monitor malaria cases and other diseases.

He added having them in one village can help the health workers deliver services to them on time.

“Nahihirapan ang ating mga barangay health workers (BHW) na ma-reach ang bahay ng ating mga brothers and sisters na IP. It is really hard to provide those services sa malayong lugar nila sa bundok kaya naisipan na ipunin ang ating mga kapatid sa iisang village para madali ang serbisyo. Hindi lang sa malaria kundi sa ibang serbisyo,” Baquilod said.

Rizal is among the municipalities in Palawan with high cases of malaria on record. The others are Balabac, Bataraza, Quezon, and Brooke’s Point.

On the other hand, Culion, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, and Kalayaan have been declared malaria-free.

In 2017, the province recorded 3,808 cases of malaria, which increased in 2018 to 4,760

Meanwhile, Trudeau said their commitment to support the elimination phase of the anti-malaria program in Palawan is steadfast.

The idea behind the village rooted from the need to monitor if the IPs are using their treated bed nets, if they are ill, and if there is an outbreak.

“Madali na natin mamo-monitor kung nagkakabit sila ng kulambo, kung may sakit at kung may outbreak ay madali natin makontrol. Kung ito ay tuloy-tuloy, sigurado na ang malaria sa Rizal ay mawawala. Hindi namin iiwanan ang Palawan hangga’t may malaria, hindi namin ito iiwanan hangga’t hindi ito nagiging malaria-free province,” Trudeau said.

Engr. Saylito Purisima of the provincial government said the village will be convenient to the IPs, the BHWs, and other volunteers.

He said it is designed to have a barangay station building, water systems, school, solar home systems (SHSs), and livelihood for the IPs.

“Kailangan lang nang cooperation at lahat kayo dito ay planong bigyan ng hanapbuhay. Solar home system para sa bahay, water is on going so less than two months may tubig na at iba pa para maayos kayo dito, uunlad kayo dito,” Purisima said.

Aside from this, the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (KLM) program of the provincial government through the support also of PSFI are building halfway homes in 11 barangays in Rizal that will help eradicate malaria.

The halfway house will serve as mini-hospitals in the barangays that will provide medical services, particularly to patients who have the mosquito-borne disease.

Also present during the groundbreaking DOH assistant secretary Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana, vice governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, Rizal mayor Norman Ong, and Bunog barangay chairman Reynaldo Cortaje.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.