SouthCot wants to ban firecrackers, pyrotechnics

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Nov) – In a bid to curb the rising cases of fireworks and firecracker-related injuries in South Cotabato, health authorities are pushing for the passage of an ordinance that will ban the selling and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the area.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said they are currently working with some members of the provincial board for the filing of a measure that will eventually ban firecrackers and pyrotechnics in the entire province.

In early August, he said they submitted a report to the provincial board regarding the incidence of fireworks and firecracker-related injuries based on a request from board member Agustin Dema-ala.

“We hope that our engagements will later lead to the passage of an ordinance (setting a firecracker ban),” he said in a media forum.

The official said they have long been pushing for the passage of such ordinance to give more teeth to their advocacy campaign against the use of fireworks and firecrackers during the Christmas season.

On Tuesday, the IPHO formally launched its campaign dubbed “Kampanya Kontra Paputok” through a massive distribution of posters and tarpaulins depicting the perils of using fireworks and firecrackers.

The campaign materials, which were initially delivered to 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.

Agnes Barrion, IPHO’s health education officer, said the campaign materials are all locally-designed and the reproduction was funded by their office through an P80,000 allocation earlier approved by the provincial board.

“We decided to start our campaign early and not wait for the materials from the Department of Health as they are usually delivered in the middle of December,” she said.

Aside from schools, Barrion said they will post and distribute the campaign materials in strategic public places like terminals, markets, government offices and other areas frequented by local residents.

But she said the campaign is mainly focused in local schools to help set proper awareness among children and their parents regarding the risks of using fireworks and firecrackers.

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.

Such figure increased by 59 percent when compared to the 54 cases recorded in 2011, said IPHO epidemiology and surveillance unit head Cecile Lorenzo.

She said 38 of the victims involved 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,” Lorenzo said.