GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 June) – The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 is pushing for the declaration of South Cotabato province before yearend as among the country’s filariasis and malaria-free areas.
Jenny Ventura, DOH-12 health education officer, said they currently working on some strategies to help sustain the province’s clean record in terms of the incidence of the mosquito-borne malaria and lymphatic filariasis in the last several months.
“Hopefully, we can have South Cotabato declared as malaria and filariasis-free this year,” she said in a radio interview.
A report released by DOH-12’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit showed no malaria cases were recorded in the province from January to April this year.
Region 12 posted six malaria cases during the period, with three noted in North Cotabato, two in Sarangani and one in this city.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The DOH report said two of the malaria patients had history of travel two weeks before being diagnosed with the disease.
One traveled to Papua New Guinea while the other was working in Palawan, which has high cases of malaria, since 2000
The Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato earlier reported that four more municipalities in the province have so far not recorded recurring cases of malaria.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, IPHO chief, said such findings were based on the stratification of malaria cases conducted by the Global Fund’s Malaria Project, which has been helping the local government in eliminating malaria cases in the province.
From their classification as under unstable transmission status that indicates recorded strings of malaria cases in two consecutive months but less than five months, Aturdido said Koronadal City and the municipalities of Suralah, Banga and Polomolok were placed under the yellow group or areas with no malaria cases so far monitored.
In 2010, the towns of Tantangan, Norala, Tampakan, Tupi and Tboli were initially classified by Global Fund under the yellow category.
Earlier this year, the group declared four municipalities – Sto. Niño, Lake Sebu, Tupi and Tampakan – as just malaria-prone areas and so far cleared of the disease.
Since March 2012, the Integrated Provincial Health Office has not recorded a single case of malaria in Lake Sebu town.
In terms of filariasis, the IPHO recorded three cases in 2011 and posted a clean record last year.
The IPHO has been working on the total elimination of the disease in the province in the last three years through the massive administration of anti-filaria drugs.
According to the World Health Organization, filariasis is an infection caused by parasitic worms Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi or B. timori.
These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito and develop into adult worms in the lymphatic vessels, causing severe damage and swelling (lymphoedema).
Elephantiasis (painful, disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs) is a classic sign of late-stage disease.
Ventura said South Cotabato is the second province in the region that has so far eliminated the disease.
In June 2011, the DOH declared North Cotabato as filariasis-free.
“Right now, our efforts are focused on making Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces as filariasis-free so we could make the same declaration for the entire region,” she added.