Malaria waning, but cases jump in 1 town
DIGOS CITY—The prevalence of malaria in one town in Davao del Sur is sticking like a sore thumb in the government’s campaign to eradicate the mosquito-borne disease and the health department’s optimism that it would succeed.
The case of Jose Abad Santos town is causing alarm bells to ring among health officials because of the speed with which malaria is spreading in its villages.
In just two weeks, the number of malaria cases in the town spiked from 40 to 195, according to health officials.
Riza Dacalos, malaria and dengue coordinator of the Davao del Sur provincial health office, said while it is normal for the number of mosquito-borne diseases to increase alongside an increase in mosquito populations during the monsoon, she found the rate at which malaria is spreading in Jose Abad Santos town to be unusual.
She said the town is not known to be an area endemic to malaria although some cases have been reported there in the past.
This is the first time that so many people in the town contracted malaria in so short a time, Dacalos said.
A spike in the number of malaria cases was first reported in Barangay Meybio. Two other villages, Barangays Mangulibas and Tabayon, soon followed.
Dr. Amparo Lachica, Jose Abad Santos town health officer, said an investigation is being conducted on why the disease was spreading quickly.
Health workers, she said, are conducting fogging operations and handing out insecticide-laden mosquito nets to prevent the further spread of malaria.
According to Dacalos, health workers are also conducting an information campaign on how to rid communities of breeding places of mosquitoes.
The case of Jose Abad Santos is becoming a blot in a government campaign that Health Secretary Enrique Ona said is on track to turning the Philippines malaria-free by 2020.
In a statement posted recently on the Department of Health website, Ona said the number of malaria cases nationwide is declining.
Last year, Ona’s statement said, the number of malaria cases was down to 9,642 from 43,441 in 2003.
“This is the lowest malaria level on record for the country in 42 years,” said Ona.
He said out of 58 provinces that are considered malaria endemic, or where malaria naturally thrives, nine have reported no malaria case in the last three years—Abra, Batanes, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Dinagat, Laguna, Misamis Oriental, Quirino and Romblon.
At least 40 provinces have reported declining numbers of malaria cases while 10 provinces have gotten rid of the disease, Ona said.
“Based on these data, the Philippines has a very high possibility of being declared malaria-free by 2020,” he said. Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao