GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 Feb) – Health personnel in South Cotabato have intensified their border operations against malaria in a bid to prevent the possible entry of new cases in any part of the province.
Jose Barroquillo, focal person for malaria of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Thursday they are closely monitoring several villages situated in boundary areas of the province and Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces where the mosquito-borne disease was known to be endemic.
He said they have initially scheduled two provincial inter-malaria border operations with Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in the first half of the year.
The joint malaria border operations will be conducted in March and April in Barangay Tudok in T’boli town and Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, he said.
Barroquillo said these initiatives, which are supported by the Global Fund and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, are part of the IPHO’s strategies to sustain the province’s clean record for malaria this year.
In the last four years, the IPHO and the Department of Health (DOH) have not recorded a single indigenous case of malaria in any part of the province.
According to the DOH, a province may be declared as malaria-free if it sustains zero incidence of indigenous case of the disease for five consecutive years.
“We’re aiming for the declaration of the entire province as malaria-free by next year,” he said in a statement released by the South Cotabato Information Office.
During the upcoming malaria border operations, Barroquillo said they will distribute around 1,000 treated mosquito nets from the DOH to the target households.
He said the IPHO’s 12-person malaria team will take blood smears from residents of 24 sitios within the two barangays as part of their case-finding activity.
“The team will also mobilize local residents for a river and stream clean-up drive to destroy the breeding places of mosquitoes,” Barroquillo said.
Around 600 households received treated mosquito nets in a joint border operation last December conducted by the IPHO and health personnel from Sarangani Province in Barangay Maan in Tboli town.
Barroquillo said no new strain of malaria were detected in the area during the operation, which served 5,500 residents from various sitios of Barangay Maan and Barangay Amsipit of Maasim, Sarangani.
He said the team also distributed 85 water sealed toilet bowls to promote sanitation among local households.
The move was aimed at preventing another possible outbreak of diarrhea, which killed two children in the area in May last year, he added.