GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – The Department of Health (DOH) has released a P1-million grant to South Cotabato province as incentive for the area’s declaration as filariasis-free nearly two years ago.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said they received a performance grant from the DOH due to their successful campaigns against the parasitic disease.
He said the province became eligible for the grant after its declaration by the DOH central office in November 2013 as filariasis-free.
“We are very grateful to the DOH for this grant. We will use this for the implementation of programs that will help sustain our status as filariasis-free,” he said.
The province qualified in 2013 for the declaration as the 20th filariasis-free area in the country after it posted an almost zero prevalence rate based on the results of the DOH’s lot quality assurance survey.
The DOH declared North Cotabato province in 2011 as the first filariasis-free area in Region 12, which also covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
In 2012, Aturdido said the province exceeded its target for the filarial mass drug administration by posting a total rating of 102 percent.
For the survey, he said the DOH selected around 3,000 children from parts of the province’s 10 towns and lone city to undergo blood tests or sampling to determine whether they are infected with the disease.
He said less than 0.1 percent of the children turned out positive and the cases were still in the initial stages and the disease symptoms have not even manifested.
Aturdido said he is planning to meet with the province’s city and municipal health officers to decide on how the incentive would be utilized.
He said it is important to involve the local health offices on the matter as they mainly served as the frontliners in their previous campaigns against filariasis.
The official said that while the IPHO provided the local health offices with technical assistance and policy directions, they were the ones who were directly involved in the disease elimination efforts.
“To make our efforts successful, it is only proper for us to involve them in our planning activities,” he said.
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.