DOH wants to include malaria measures in CCT program

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Apr) – The Department of Health is considering the inclusion of malaria measures into the conditionalities of its partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s conditional cash transfer (CCT), especially for upland communities vulnerable to the mosquito-borne disease.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Club 888 media forum, DOH regional director Abdullah Dumama said the DOH could ask the beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to avail of the DOH’s long-lasting insecticide nets (LLINs), which are in ready supply to prevent the spread of the disease, in exchange for cash from the CCT program.

Dumama said there was enough supply of the LLINs, but that they were still working on the information and education campaign about the disease.

The agency also awarded Wednesday 14 municipalities from the region which have been declared malaria-free as of 2014.

The DSWD aims to conduct its second round of assessment for the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) this summer, targetting at least 700,000 families for Region XI.

The project aims to provide a list of the country’s poor through a database system that government and non-government agencies may access for their poverty alleviation programs.

The first round of assessments was conducted in 2009.

For Region XI, only three provinces have recorded zero malaria cases as of 2014, but these were for different periods.

Davao Oriental, for example, is preparing its declaration of being malaria-free, having zero indigenous cases from 2010 to 2014.

Compostela Valley has had no malaria cases from 2011 to 2014.

Davao del Sur, meanwhile, has had no malaria cases from 2013 to 2014.

This year, Davao del Norte has still not been declared malaria-free, as it had one case in the first quarter.

“But we haven’t recorded any deaths,” Dumama said.

The performance of the region’s malaria control program has effectively reduced the incidence of confirmed malaria cases by 99 percent, with 5,860 cases in 2001 to only 67 in 2014.

The 14 municipalities declared malaria-free will be awarded P60,000 in cash incentives.

For 2015, the agency is aiming to assess nine more municipalities. But as of April, Compostela in Compostela Valley; Mati City, Tarragona, Caraga, and Cateel in Davao Oriental, have already been assessed.

For the third quarter, the agency has scheduled the assessment of three more municipalities – Matanao in Davao del Sur; Mawab and Pantukan in Compostela Valley – and Tagum City in Davao del Norte.

Dumama said the agency has established a collaborating center designed to support the malaria control program, in its goals to achieve the millennium development goals and a target of a malaria-free Philippines.

The center would provide technical assistance for Mindanao in terms of capacity building for its researchers and field workers.

At the moment, the agency is augmented with a P4.4-million funding from the Global Fund Malaria Project through the Movement Against Malaria.

The budget for the agency’s malaria control program for the region, according to infectious diseases coordinator Gracita Berguia, is P9 million for the year.