(Photo from Palawan PIO)

Over 470 malaria service providers, health officials, and delegates from across Palawan convened in Puerto Princesa City for the 14th Provincial Malaria Congress on November 28.

The goal of the congress is to tackle the mosquito-borne infectious disease that has persisted in the province. This event, organized by the Provincial Health Office’s Kilusan Ligtas Malaria program in collaboration with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. and the Department of Health, marked an important step in the ongoing battle against malaria.

The congress served as a platform to provide these participants with updates on the current status of malaria in Palawan and to highlight the interventions necessary to achieve the goal of making Palawan entirely malaria-free.

Under the theme “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement Formula ‘M’ para sa Malaria: Makiisa, Makialam, Makipagtulungan, Makibahagi,” participants discussed the importance of investing in healthcare infrastructure, innovative strategies, community involvement, and coordinated efforts to reduce and eliminate malaria cases.

Dr. Faye Erika Labrador, provincial health officer, emphasized the commitment of her office to eradicate malaria in Palawan, despite recent increases in cases.

“We may still be having cases, and for this year, we have observed an increase in our cases, but we will not stop until malaria is eradicated in our province,” Labrador said.

Executive Assistant IV Ma. Elizabeth Sabando, representing Governor Dennis Socrates, reiterated the provincial government’s dedication to healthcare infrastructure and innovative approaches.

She highlighted the importance of translating aspirations into tangible actions on the ground.

“Investment in malaria eradication stands as a testament to our commitment to the health and well-being of our people. It is an investment not only in healthcare infrastructure but also in the future of our communities, to ensure a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow,” Sabando said, relating the governor’s message.

The Philippines has made significant progress in its fight against malaria, with the Department of Health (DOH) stating that the country is on track to achieve a malaria-free status within the next two to three years.

DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa noted in July this year that malaria cases have been effectively eradicated in all regions except for Palawan, where the majority of cases are concentrated in high mountainous areas.

In 2022, Palawan recorded 3,157 cases of indigenous malaria.

KLM Program Manager Aileen Balderian discussed during the event the current situation of the province regarding malaria, including the challenges faced in implementing the program and the ongoing steps to eradicate the disease.

Al-Patrick Aquino of the DOH Center for Health Development (CHD) Mimaropa, meanwhile, talked about the current National and Regional Malaria Situation, while Jenevil Tombaga of PHO provided information about Republic Act No. 7883 and DILG and DOH JMC No. 2023-001 regarding the Retention and Continued Service of Barangay Health Workers.

As part of the program, certificates of recognition were awarded to outstanding malaria warriors for their contributions to the programs and efforts against this disease.

Some of the attendees and speakers at the event included Provincial Department of Health Office Team Leader Dr. Peter Hew Curameng, Ray Angluben of PSFI, Dr. Gil Dela Cruz of the World Health Organization (WHO), Marvi Trudeau, and Dr. Antonio Bautista, program manager of the Movement Against Malaria at PSFI.

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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.