GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 December) — The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 has stepped up its campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks in the upcoming New Year revelries as it already recorded a total of 31 injury cases in the area in the last six days.
Dr. Teogenes Baluma, DOH-12 director, said their monitoring showed that the number of firecracker-related injuries in the region has so far increased by eight when compared to the same period last year.
The agency only recorded 23 firecracker-related injuries in the first of its two-week monitoring activities in the previous year.
“This only shows that we still have a long way to go in terms of our campaign and advocacy against the use of firecrackers and fireworks,” he said in a press conference here on Thursday night.
Baluma said most of the region’s 31 injury cases were recorded from December 24 to 25, especially during the Christmas Eve revelries.
These cases were based on the reports submitted to the regional health office since Dec. 21 by the epidemiology and surveillance units of local health offices as well as by government and private hospitals in the area, he said.
The ongoing monitoring, which will end on January 6 next year, is part of the intensified “Iwas Paputok” of the DOH
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
He said South Cotabato province posted the most number of injuries with 23 or an increase of five percent from the previous year.
This city posted five firecracker-related injuries while Cotabato City reported two cases. A sixth case was recorded in this city but the victim was from nearby Polomolok town in South Cotabato.
Baluma said the health offices in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato have not yet submitted their reports regarding firecracker-related injuries in their areas.
Jenny Ventura, DOH-12 health education officer, said 90 percent of injury cases in the region so far were caused by “piccolo,” which is a banned firecracker.
“Piccolo is actually the number one cause of the recorded firecracker-related injuries in Region 12 in the last three years,” she said.
Dr. Edgardo Sandig, city health officer, told MindaNews that all five firecracker victims in the area were minors who only suffered minor injuries.
“They only suffered some burns due to firecracker explosions and were all out-patients,” he said, adding the area’s injury cases increased by three when compared to last year.
He said two of the injuries were caused by the banned “piccolo” and one from “triangle” firecracker while the two others were caused by fireworks.
Sandig said two of the victims were treated at the Labella Hospital and the three others at the city hospital here.
The sixth victim from Polomolok, South Cotabato, who suffered an injury on the right eye due to sparkler burns, was confined at the St. Elizabeth hospital, he said.
Owing to this, Baluma urged residents to refrain from buying and using firecrackers and fireworks in the upcoming New Year celebration in the area.
“We can celebrate the New Year through alternative means of making noise like using tin cans, vehicle horns and by even playing loud music and dancing along with it,” he said.
He advised parents to monitor their children properly and guide them to shun from using and playing with firecrackers.
“The trend shows that 25 percent of the firecracker-related injuries are recorded during the first five days of our monitoring and the remaining 75 percent during the New Year and succeeding revelries so we’re doubling our education and advocacy activities in the coming days,” he said.
Baluma said the DOH central office delivered on Thursday more “Iwas Paputok” posters and related materials that will be distributed in the next few days in various parts of the region.
He said this year’s campaign against firecrackers and fireworks is a combination of the negative and positive approach.
The negative approach uses gory pictures of firecracker injuries in the education and advocacy activities regarding firecrackers and fireworks while the positive approach focuses on subtle and information-based campaign materials.
For this year’s campaign, the DOH adopted the theme: “Maging Ligtas Ngayong Kapaskuhan, Mga Biktima ng Kalamidad Handugan.”
Baluma said it mainly urges residents to shun from using and spending on firecrackers and related materials and instead use their money to help the survivors of various calamities that hit the country these past months. (MindaNews)