GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 Dec) – With three weeks left before the start of the long Christmas break in schools, health personnel in South Cotabato province have shifted the focus of their intensified campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks on school children and students in the area.
Cecile Lorenzo, disease surveillance head of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Tuesday they have set a series of information and advocacy activities in various public and private schools in the province to raise awareness regarding the risks of using firecrackers and fireworks in the ongoing Christmas season.
She said they simultaneously launched the initiative on Monday in four public elementary schools and one high school in Koronadal City.
Lorenzo said they showed to the pupils and students some pictures of previous injury cases and the specific firecrackers and fireworks that caused them.
She said investigators from the Koronadal City and South Cotabato police offices conducted lectures on existing regulations and prohibitions related to the selling, use and distribution of firecrackers and fireworks.
It specifically focused on the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7183 or the “Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnic Devices.”
Among the banned materials are watusi or the “dancing firecracker,” piccolo, super lolo, atomic big triangulo, mother rockets, lolo thunder, pillbox, boga, big Judah’s belt, big bawang, kwiton, goodbye Philippines, kabasi, five star, pla-pla, OG, giant whistle bomb and unlabeled firecrackers.
The Departments of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry had issued prohibitions regarding the use and selling of the said firecrackers and fireworks.
“Our goal is to encourage our pupils and students to not only refrain from buying and using firecrackers and fireworks but also become advocates in their own communities,” Lorenzo said.
On December 9, she said they will gather school nurses and officials of the province’s elementary and public schools for another round of information and advocacy sessions.
She said they are mainly tapping the Department of Education’s nurses to spearhead the campaign in local schools.
The IPHO formally launched early last month the province-wide “Kampanya Kontra Paputok” through a massive distribution of posters and tarpaulins depicting the perils of using fireworks and firecrackers.
The campaign materials, which were delivered to all schools within the province’s 10 towns and lone city, show a bloody hand with injured or missing fingers as a result of a firecracker explosion.
A report released by the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit showed that the province’s fireworks and firecracker-related injuries in the previous Christmas season reached a total of 86 cases.
Lorenzo said such figure increased by 59 percent when compared to the 54 cases recorded in 2011.
She said 38 of the victims involved were children aged 5 to 10 while the youngest victim was just six months old.
“Piccolo is still the number one cause of injuries with 51 cases and that had been the trend in the province in the last three years,” she said.