Firecracker-related injuries at 111, piccolo still main cause – DOH

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 111 firecracker-related incidents nationwide as of Monday morning, December 28.

Majority of the incidents involved children and Metro Manila residents, according to the latest DOH update on Monday afternoon – 3 days before New Year's Eve, which many Filipinos celebrate with fireworks and firecrackers.

According to DOH spokesperson Dr Lyndon Lee Suy, 77% of these cases were due to the use of the piccolo, an illegal firecracker.

Although not as explosive as other firecrackers, the piccolo is considered dangerous because the damage it causes requires the amputation of a victim's fingers. And despite being illegal, it is still readily available in local stores, and sold at a cheap price.

Health Secretary Janette Garin earlier urged local officials to be "extra vigilant" against the sales of piccolo in their areas.

"If we take away the piccolo [from the market], the decrease in the number of firecracker-related injuries will be significant," Garin said in a statement released early December.

Malacañang had also appealed to the public to greet 2016 with noisemakers, instead of firecrackers.

Lower incident rates

The DOH noted, however, that the number of incidents this year is 27% lower from the same period last year.

Asked if the DOH saw indications that its anti-firecracker campaign will be effective this year, Lee Suy said it is still "too early to tell."

He said the DOH has no specific target but hopes that the number of firecracker-related injuries would be lower this year.

The DOH is closely coordinating with its partner agencies, including the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs, and the Bureau of Fire Protection, to implement measures to curb fircracker-related injuries.–