GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 March) – The Department of Health (DOH) has declared South Cotabato province as a “disease-free zone” for the parasitic filariasis.
Jose Barroquillo, focal person of the Integrated Provincial Health Office’s filariasis program, said Wednesday the DOH central office made the declaration with the conferment to the province last week of the “Disease-Free Zone Award” for filariasis.
According to the World Health Organization, filariasis is an infection caused by parasitic worms Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi or B. timori. These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito and develop into adult worms in the lymphatic vessels, causing severe damage and swelling (lymphoedema).
Elephantiasis, which is exhibited by painful, disfiguring swelling of the legs and genital organs, is a classic sign of late-stage disease.
Barroquillo said the award mainly recognizes the local government’s efforts in maintaining the area as filariasis-free since last year.
It also cites the province’s “good performance” in terms of the pursuit of universal health care, he said.
“The award was given to South Cotabato for the efforts of local health workers and the support of its local government units in achieving a disease-free status for filariasis,” Barroquillo said in a statement.
He said the province achieved last year the criteria set by the DOH for the total elimination of filariasis.
The DOH declared the province as filariasis-free in November 2013 after the area recorded a nearly zero prevalence rate of the disease since 2012.
Based on the agency’s regulations, a province may be declared as filariasis-free if its micro-filaria rate goes down to less than one percent.
Meantime, Barroquillo said Koronadal City and the municipality of Tupi also received special awards from the DOH for the successful implementation of their health programs.
He said Tupi was conferred with the Red Orchid Hall of Fame Award for the annual search for 100 percent Tobacco-free towns.
Koronadal City received the Good Practice Award (GPA) after landing second place in terms of the implementation of health-related projects.
GPA is a biennial award given by the national project implementation officers, which is chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority, to Official Development Assistance and foreign-assisted projects.
A DOH briefer said “a good practice is one that resolves a recurring implementation issue or one that achieves a desired sector outcome.”
“The award is the DOH’s appreciation of our local health initiatives and our adoption of the local health system approach,” Barroquillo added.