GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 December)– The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region cautioned anew residents against the use of firecrackers and related materials as the region’s injury cases climbed to 23 as of Friday.
Dr. Leonora Lozana, DOH-12’s non-communicable disease coordinator, said their monitoring showed that the number of fireworks and firecracker-related injuries in the region has continued to increase in the last eight days.
She said most of the injury cases were recorded in the run-up to the Christmas Eve celebration last Monday.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Lozana said South Cotabato province posted the most number of injury cases with 16, followed by this city with four and Cotabato City with three.
These cases were based on the reports submitted to the regional health office since December 21 by the epidemiology and surveillance units of local health offices as well as by government and private hospitals in the area.
“The figures were so far almost the same as with the previous year,” she said in a radio interview.
Based on their observation, Lozana said most of the firework and firecracker victims in the area were children aged six to 10 years old.
Cecil Lorenzo, epidemiology and surveillance unit head of the South Cotabato-Integrated Provincial Health Office, said seven of the victims in the province were children aged 10 years old and below.
The youngest victim was a four-year old boy from Koronadal City who sustained some cuts and burns after a piccolo firecracker exploded on his hands, she said.
Lorenzo said eight of the recorded injuries in the area were caused by piccolo, which is a banned firecracker.
Last year, 27 of the 54 total firecracker and fireworks-related injuries recorded during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelries in the province were also caused by piccolo.
Owing to this, Jenelyn Ventura, DOH-12 information officer, urged residents to refrain from buying and using firecrackers and fireworks in the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebration.
She said parents should closely monitor their children’s activities and make sure that they stay away from firecrackers.
The DOH-12 earlier launched the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction” or APIR in the area to highlight its campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks.
The campaign reiterates the DoH’s Oplan Iwas Paputok that was started in 1994 to monitor the use of firecrackers, particularly from December 21 to January 4, as well as to minimize the morbidity and mortality from firecracker and firework injuries.
As part of the campaign, DOH-12 placed all health units in the region under “code white alert” from last December 21 until January 5 in preparation for possible untoward incidents that may occur during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)