GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 September) – Health personnel in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces will launch joint border operations against malaria later this month to further reduce the cases of malaria infections in the two areas.
Jose Barroquillo, South Cotabato malaria control program coordinator, said the health offices of the two provinces specifically agreed to jointly conduct anti-malaria campaigns in communities straddling their mountainous boundaries, where the disease had become endemic during the past several years.
“We’ve been doing this for several years now and our studies showed that it’s on the factors that helped reduce our malaria cases,” he said.
Among the areas covered by the previous joint malaria operations were the upland communities of Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato and Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat.
Several malaria outbreaks occurred in these areas in the past years but the disease’s incidence has drastically dropped during the last two years.
Barroquillo said that while malaria appears to have been controlled they are sustaining their operations in a bid to further eradicate the disease.
He said the province has so far accomplished the national target of recording 2.6 cases or less per 100,000 populations per year.
Barroquillo said eight of the province’s 10 towns had zero malaria cases in 2009 and only a total of nine cases were reported in Koronadal City and in Lake Sebu and Polomolok towns.
In July, he said they sent the Integrated Provincial Health Office’s malaria control team to Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu to monitor several malaria cases that were reported in the area.
“Our campaign this year is focused in Lake Sebu town and we already distributed at least 5,000 treated mosquito nets to communities where the malaria cases were reported,” he said.
Barroquillo said their ongoing anti-malaria activities are being supported by the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, which earlier committed financial and technical support for the province.
He said a medical scholar from the University of the Philippines has been in the province since February to conduct a thorough study on the malaria cases in the area and identify the endemic malaria strains.
“The study will conclude by the end of the year and we will use this in developing more strategies that will help us in further eradicating malaria in our area,” the health official added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)