Bataan draws near to malaria-free status

BALANGA CITY — After recording zero cases of malaria for five consecutive years, Bataan is set to be officially declared as malaria-free by the Department of Health (DOH) after the province fulfills the final assessment scheduled on May 29-June 2.

Governor Albert Garcia announced this feat during the observance of the World Malaria Day.

“We put a premium to the health of our constituents so we really appreciate every health programs of the DOH,” Garcia said.

The official disclosed that he aims to make Bataan obtain the highest human development index in the country by developing programs that improve literacy and prolong life expectancy of every constituent.

“Bataan has the lowest poverty incidence in the entire country with 1.6 percent according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. And if you’re curious, the national average is 22 percent,” Garcia said.

Since 2012, the province has been categorized as malaria-free through the efforts of the Provincial Health Office.

Witnessing the celebration, Dr. Enrique Tayag, Director of DOH’s Bureau of Local Health System Development, extolled the province but clarified that DOH has not officially declared the province as malaria-free.

“Bataan is not yet officially malaria-free but the province had fulfilled the requirements for five continuous years with zero indigenous case. What’s all needed is the validation which will be on May 29 and we are expecting that you will be awarded with the certification,” Tayag said.

Once officially recognized, this achievement will be the first in the whole Central Luzon, which conforms to DOH’s vision for the Philippines to become a malaria-free country by 2030.

The initial target to fully eradicate malaria in the country is by 2020 but was moved to 2030 due to numerous cases in Palawan that accounted to 93% of the total cases in the country in 2016.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, which can be transmitted, to its victims through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Symptoms include headache, chills, vomiting and fever, which could lead to serious consequences if not given prompt treatment. (PIA 3)