DAVAO CITY, November 23, 2015 – The Province of Davao Oriental was officially declared by the Department of Health XI as the first and only province in the entire region as a malaria-free zone.
At the awarding ceremony held on November 19, 2015 in Davao City, DOH XI Regional Director Dr. Abdullah B. Dumama, Jr., lauded Davao Oriental for this yet another unprecedented feat in terms of public health.
Based on a disease-free assessment criteria set by the National Malaria Control and Elimination Program, Davao Oriental has achieved zero cases of malaria for five consecutive years, which became the major basis for this recognition.
Provincial Health Officer I, Dr. Joy Sanico said this status was attained by Davao Oriental after years of efforts to control the disease.
She listed several strategies adopted by the Provincial Health Office in fighting malaria, which include among others: early detection and prompt treatment, case surveillance, capability-building among municipal health workers, and increasing public awareness through extensive information, education, and communication campaign, among many others.
She also highlighted the distribution of treated mosquito nets and eliminating nesting grounds of mosquitoes as effective ways of preventing the spreading of malaria disease. “In the prevention of diseases, our actions should not be passive, they should be active,” said Sanico.
Sanico attributed this feat to the strong collaboration between the stakeholders advocating in stamping out endemic diseases. Among them are the Provincial and Municipal Health Offices, the DOH and non-government organizations.
In addition, she also named the Philippine Army as an active partner in helping reach remote areas – which are otherwise impossible to reach by health workers. Aside from helping in the malaria program, the soldiers, said Sanico, are active in the conduct of medical outreach programs, construction of toilets in the communities, as well as in the conduct sputum test for the early detection of tuberculosis cases, among others.
Meanwhile, aside from attaining zero malaria cases in a five-year period, other basis in achieving a malaria-free status include a functional laboratory, stocks of insecticides, equipment and other supplies needed in times of outbreak.
Sanico said that eliminating the malaria burden is an impressive achievement but the great challenge now lies in the sustainability of the program in the communities.
She noted, however, that with the strengthened health programs of the Provincial Government, under the leadership of Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon, she is positive that this status will be sustained.
Other significant milestones attained by the province in terms of health include achieving the lowest malnutrition rate in the region, the construction of new Barangay Health Stations, and the establishment of a sophisticated, state-of-the-art Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center equipped with facilities that cater the health needs of the poor constituents of the province.
Other municipalities in Davao Oriental that also received recognition as malaria-free include Caraga, Cateel, Governor Generoso, Tarragona, and the City of Mati. The towns of Baganga, Banaybanay, Boston, Lupon, Manay, and San Isidro, on the other hand, have maintained their malaria-free status. (By Karen Lou Deloso/PIO DO)