Anti-malaria nets used for fishing and farming, DOH laments

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 April) – A Department of Health official in Region 11 has reported that some of those who received mosquito nets treated with chemicals against malaria and dengue used these for fishing and farming purposes.

“We’ve had reports of fisherfolk using the nets in their fishing and farmers using the nets to dry cacao crops,” said Antonieta Ebol, head of the malaria and dengue program of DOH-11, during awarding ceremonies for the region’s malaria program at the Royal Mandaya Hotel Friday last week.

She lamented why the beneficiaries do not use the mosquito nets properly since these would help protect them from the diseases. “The nets are able to protect the beneficiaries for up to five years,” Ebol added.

She said that while the DOH was against the misuse of the nets, the beneficiaries would be better off waiting until the efficacy expired before deciding to use it for other purposes.

The beneficiaries would even be given additional nets after the treated nets expire, she added.

The treated mosquito nets cost P1,300 each in the market, with a discounted price of around P270 if bought by the DOH through the World Health Organization.

She said it was the Department of Social Welfare and Development that identified the beneficiaries from among the poorest of the poor, through the conditional cash transfer program.

Another priority areas for the nets are far-flung communities with identified cases of malaria and dengue.

The mosquito nets, called long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN), are part of the agency’s strengthening of vector control against malaria, according to a presentation Ebol showed to awardees and officials from the region’s malaria program at the Royal Mandaya Hotel last Friday.

Ebol said that communities should also avail of the DOH’s indoor residual spraying program to deter the entry of the mosquitoes from their homes.

Vector control prevents malaria transmission by reducing human-vector contact, decreasing vector population, increasing adult vector mortality, and preventing and controlling epidemics, she said.

Ebol said new measures were in place to increase awareness and distribute more LLINs in the region’s far-flung communities.

But the city isn’t safe from the disease yet, she said.

As of 2013, Davao City’s malaria situation fell under the stable-medium category, with three cases recorded as of 2013.

She said there were three cases in Paquibato and that the DOH was already treating the patients and provided the communities with the necessary response.

“Actually, what’s more dangerous are factors that are external from the communities,” Ebol said.

She said that any community that was safe from malaria would be placed in danger if there was a visitor who came from an area with a recorded case.

DOH regional director Abdullah Dumama said the region is aiming to become malaria-free, with no indigenous case declared for at least five years.

“We’re targetting that, maybe by 2016,” he said. “But as far as attaining the disease-free region status is concerned, we’re still a little behind so far.”

However, Dumama said that Davao del Norte was on its way to being declared malaria free. “It’s within striking distance.”

Ebol said Davao City is also affected by threats of cases from neighboring areas such as Bukidnon.