After decades of campaign, Maguindanao now a filariasis-free province

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 20 July) – The entire province of Maguindanao is a now filariasis-free, a health official said.

Dr. Tahir Sulaik, head of the Maguindanao Integrated Provincial Health Office, said they have been conducting a massive campaign against the mosquito-borne killer disease in the province’s 36 municipalities for decades.

In 1998, Maguindanao was among the 44 provinces nationwide where filariasis was endemic.

But after a mid-term assessment survey in 2015, and through night blood examination survey in three pilot areas – Datu Paglas, Shariff Aguak, and Sultan Mastura – the test conducted by University of the Philippines’ College of Public Health found a zero rate of filariasis, according to Sulaik.

Sulaik was awarded by former Health Secretary Janette Garin last June 23 for the province’s success in its campaign against filariasis. Sulaik credited the success to the hundreds of health providers who supported the campaign.

“We are proud to say that Maguindanao is free of filariasis,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, filariasis is an infection with filarial worms which are transmitted to human through the bite of an infected mosquito.

With one disease “neutralized,” IPHO-Maguindanao is eyeing other diseases for eradication, Sulaik said.

Priorities, he said, are malaria and schistosomiasis. Malaria, like filariasis, is also triggered by mosquito bites, while schistosomiasis come form parasitic worms that live in fresh water. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)