12-year-old boy dies of tetanus from firecracker wound; 929 hurt in New Year revelry – DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) ended its count of firecracker-related injuries during the New Year revelries with a report of a second fatality, a 12-year-old boy who died of tetanus reportedly due to a small wound caused by a firecracker.
At a forum, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the final count of firecracker-related injuries was at 929, which was eight percent higher compared to figures culled during the same period in the 2014-2015 revelry. But Garin noted that the 2015-2016 figures were 41 cases less than the five-year period average.
“While injuries due to other illegal firecrackers have been drastically reduced, there was a huge increase of [accidents] due to piccolo,” said Garin at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum. She was referring to a small and cheap pyrotechnic device that has long been banned by the government.
She said that on Tuesday, the health agency received a report of a 12-year-old boy from Sta. Rosa, Laguna, who was rushed to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center on Jan. 4 for showing symptoms of tetanus.
Garin said the boy had lockjaw and had difficulty swallowing when he was rushed to the hospital. The patient died the next day, she added. Initial investigation showed that the boy had two minor wounds, one of which was from igniting a piccolo.
“The parents did not seek medical attention initially because they thought the child’s wounds were just minor,” said Garin. But the child was already infected with tetanus when he was brought to the hospital.
Earlier during the holiday season, the health agency repeatedly called on firecracker victims to go to the nearest government hospital to get anti-tetanus shots.
Out of the 929 people hurt during the New Year revelries, 33 of them needed amputation.
Still, Metro Manila posted the highest number of injuries, accounting for 56 percent of all cases, followed by Western Visayas, which reported 82 cases or nine percent of the total number of injuries.
Garin admitted that the DOH campaign against firecrackers failed “in some aspects.” “We go back to the availability of firecrackers. It can be accessed anywhere at a very cheap price,” she pointed out.
She urged the next Congress to exercise political will in implementing a total ban on firecrackers to stop the senseless loss of lives and limbs, especially among young children.
A total ban would also minimize government expenses over preventable injuries brought about by the indiscriminate use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics, she said, noting that the DOH allotted P5 million to provide emergency treatment to firecracker victims during the New Year revelries.
“They could still proceed with public fireworks display but firecrackers should really be banned. It costs not only the limbs of our children but also their lives,” said Garin.
She said the health agency succeeded in the campaign as far as preventing other illegal firecrackers such as “five star” and “plapla” from inflicting serious injuries to merrymakers. “We saw only minor injuries this year and nobody lost their eyesight,” she pointed out. SFM
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