SouthCot info drive on firecrackers starts next month

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 Oct.) — Health authorities in South Cotabato province are set to launch early next month an extensive advocacy and information campaign against the use of fireworks and firecrackers for the upcoming Christmas season.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said Monday they decided to start the campaign early to ensure that it will cover more areas and residents of the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

“The earlier that we start the campaign, the more that our residents will be exposed and become aware of the dangers of using firecrackers and fireworks,” he said.

Aturdido said he has instructed the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit to begin the reproduction of the materials needed for the campaign.

He said they will not wait for the campaign materials from the Department of Health (DOH) as they usually arrive or distributed late.

“We’re targeting to start the distribution of the campaign materials by the first week of November,” he said.

The official said the IPHO will initially utilize the materials that they used in last year’s campaign, which focused on the DOH’s Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) strategy.

The DOH launched APIR in December 2011 to highlight its campaign against the use of firecrackers and fireworks towards a safe holiday celebration.

The campaign reiterates the agency’s Oplan Iwas Paputok that was started in 1994 to monitor the use of firecrackers, particularly from December 21 to January 4, to minimize the morbidity and mortality from firecracker and firework injuries.

Aturdido earlier said they are considering reverting anew to the “scare tactics” to make their campaign more effective.

He said their assessment showed that the APIR campaign has not been much effective in curbing the number of firework and firecracker-related injuries in the province.

“The program failed to convey the right message to the public regarding the dangers of using fireworks and firecrackers due to its subtle approach. I think we should change the strategy and send a much stronger message next time,” Aturdido said.

He cited the DOH’s campaign in 2009 that used crude or “harsher” pictures of firecracker-related injuries to “scare” people from using them.

Aturdido said they deem it necessary to launch a wider and more intensified campaign against firecrackers and fireworks after the province posted a total of 62 injuries during last year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Such figure was eight more that the recorded injuries in the same period in 2011, IPHO records showed.

It said 34 of the recorded injury cases involved children aged 10 years-old and below.

Most of the injuries were caused by “piccolo,” which is among the firecrackers earlier banned by authorities, IPHO added. (MindaNews)