Palawan records increase in malaria cases

Keith Anthony S. Fabro

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Palawan records increase in malaria cases
'We expect to meet the malaria-free target in the province despite the difficulty to reach malaria-stricken mountainous areas,' says health official Mario Baquilod

PALAWAN, Philippines – Palawan has again seen a spike in malaria cases, with 4,162 cases recorded from January 1 to November 16 this year, higher than last year’s 3,824 cases, government records show.

The resurgence of malaria cases in Palawan came after a significant decline in cases from 2015 to 2017, according to data from the Department of Health (DOH) in Mimaropa.

The top 5 towns with the highest number of cases are all in the mountainous southern Palawan: 

  • Rizal – 2,718
  • Bataraza – 374
  • Balabac – 329
  • Quezon – 219 
  • Brooke’s Point – 217

Of these cases, health authorities have so far recorded one death. Last year, there were two deaths logged.

Palawan’s indigenous peoples have been the most vulnerable sector in the past years, prompting the government and its partner organizations to assist them in following treatment against malaria to prevent deaths and recurrences.

DOH Mimaropa regional director Mario Baquilod is optimistic, however, that the region will be declared “malaria-free by 2023” despite the recent hike in Palawan.

“We expect to meet the malaria-free target in the province despite the difficulty to reach malaria-stricken mountainous areas,” said Baquilod in a press conference on November 22, during the 1st Regional and 10th Palawan Malaria Congress in Puerto Princesa City.

DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said Palawan may hold the key to the country’s eventual declaration as malaria-free.

“Palawan is very important in the eventual declaration of the Philippines as malaria-free because more than 90% of the cases (in the country) are from here,” he said.

Bayugo noted that if eradication is accomplished in the next 4 years, the Philippines has a chance of being declared malaria-free.

“If we all work together against malaria – not really a zero-zero case, because that is difficult to achieve – it can help us achieve our target,” he added.

To combat malaria, health officials remind residents particularly those in upland areas to follow preventive measures, including stream-clearing, using insect repellant and insecticide-treated nets, wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, and indoor residual spraying.

“The various preventive measures are there,” Baquilod said. “My hope is that despite an increase in cases this year, we remain on the track of eliminating the disease.”

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 and sharing of intravenous needles. It can also be transplacental or through the transfer of parasites from an infected mother to her unborn child.

November has been designated as Malaria Awareness Month in accordance with Proclamation No. 1168, series of 2009. –

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