GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 Jan) – Health personnel in Region 12 recorded a total of 137 firecracker-related and stray bullet injuries in various parts of the region during the recent Christmas and New Year holidays.
Dr. Teogenes Baluma, Department of Health (DOH) Region 12 director, said Thursday such figure was based on the monitoring that they conducted in 31 hospitals in the region from Dec. 21 last year until 6 a.m. last Tuesday, Jan. 6.
The injury cases were down by nine when compared to the 146 recorded by the during the previous Christmas and New Year celebrations in the region.
Baluma said the 137 injury cases include the three stray bullet incidents in Cotabato City, Malungon town in Sarangani and Midsayap in North Cotabato.
He said they have not recorded any fatality as a result of injuries but some of the cases involved amputations and surgeries.
A four-year-old in Cotabato City was hit by a stray bullet shortly before the New Year and a 43-year-old resident of Surallah town in South Cotabato lost a finger on Christmas Eve due to an accidental explosion of the whistle bomb firecracker.
A 13-year-old boy from Barangay Namnama in Koronadal City lost two fingers and suffered serious burns due to an explosion of collected firecracker powders.
Baluma said South Cotabato province posted the most number of injuries with 45, followed by North Cotabato with 38, this city with 18, Sultan Kudarat with 15, Cotabato City with 11 and Sarangani with 10.
“This is frustrating for us because we really wanted to have zero firecracker casualties,” he told the Radio Mindanao Network in Koronadal City.
Of the 137 injury cases, Baluma said 118 involved males and 19 were females, majority of whom were children.
A total of 79 victims were aged 12 and below while the remaining 58 were 13 and above, he said.
He said the banned firecracker piccolo caused the most number of injuries, followed by kwitis and other fireworks, and big illegal firecrackers like pla-pla and judas belt.
Despite the conclusion of their monitoring last Jan. 5, Baluma said they expect the injury figures to still increase in the next few days.
“Our online reporting system clogged up these past several days so there could be more cases that we have not yet added to our list,” he said.
For instance, the Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato already recorded 112 firecracker-related injuries as of Jan. 5.
The DOH-12 earlier expanded its monitoring sites for firecracker injuries to 31 hospitals in the region from six in the previous year.
The agency said it increased the monitoring sites to facilitate the proper reporting and handing of firecracker injury cases in the region.