Malaria cases high again in Palawan this year
Malaria cases in Palawan reached 4,162 from January to November 16 this year, records of the Department of Health (DOH) MIMAROPA Region show. This is higher than the 3,824 cases recorded last year during the same period. Mario Baquilod, DOH OIC regional director, said Thursday at the press conference of the 1st Regional and 10th Palawan Malaria Congress that despite the hike, they are optimistic that the region will be declared “malaria-free by 2023.” He said that although their records also showed a significant decrease in the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease from 2015 to 2017, there has also been a resurgence this year. “Tingin naman namin ay mami-meet ang target na maging malaria-free ang province despite nga na mahirap puntahan ang mga kabundukan kahit may mga volunteers pa tayo. Tinitingnan din kasi namin ang mga strategies na ginagawa sa mga provinces na naging malaria-free ay same lang, kaya hopeful tayo na magiging free tayo,” Baquilod said. The top five municipalities in Palawan with the highest number of malaria cases are Rizal-2,718; Bataraza-374; Balabac-329; Quezon-219, and Brooke’s Point-217 — all in the southern area. Since 2012, Romblon, Marinduque, and Oriental Mindoro registered no malaria cases. DOH assistant secretary Maria Francia Laxamana said the indigenous peoples (IP) in the province have been the most vulnerable sector in the past years, recording the highest number of malaria cases in the MIMAROPA. Laxamana said Palawan contributes around 90 percent of the coun- try’s total number of malaria cases. “Ang tribo sa Palawan ay marami, ngayon kung iisipin natin ang kaso ay hindi na sa kapatagan kundi sa kabundukan kung saan doon sila makikita. Dagdag pa sila ay palipat-lipat kaya mas mabilis lumipat ang parasite dahil mula dito sal lugar nila, lilipat naman doon sa kabila, so ganoon,” she said. Aileen Balderian, provincial malaria coordinator said they considered the high cases of malaria as positive because they are able to cure all the patient. “Kami dito, tinitignan naman as positive ang mataas na kaso natin sa malaria kasi mas nalalaman natin kung sino ang gagamutin. Hindi katulad dati na kaunti lang and yet marami pala talaga. So mas maganda para sa atin ‘yon at least identified natin kung sino sa kanila,” Balderian said. Malaria is a parasite-caused disease usually acquired through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, but can also be transferred through the blood transfusion from an infected person, sharing of intravenous (IV) needles, and transplacental (transfer of parasites from an infected mother to her unborn child). The DOH officials said to combat malaria, preventive measures should be implemented such as stream-clearing, using of insect repellant, use of insecticide-treated nets, and wearing of long sleeves and pants, and indoor residual spraying. The first-ever regional congress that was held with the 10th Malaria Congress in Palawan was a collaboration among the DOH, the city and provincial governments, World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI).
Community workers of the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (KLM) visit an upland indigenous community in southern Palawan to conduct information campaign and blood smearing for malaria parasite activities.