‘War on Worms’ raging in upland areas of Floridablanca

University of the Philippines Manila Neglected Tropical Diseases Study Group partners with public and private sectors to address health care issues of indigenous communities in Floridablanca, Pampanga.

During the Talakayan at Balitaan of CLMA Pampanga Chapter on Thursday, February 29 held at Teresa’s Cafe, Angeles City, Dr. Vicente Y. Belizario Jr., Professor and Convenor of UP Manila Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Study Group, shared the group’s collaboration with the Municipality of Floridablanca and San Miguel Brewery to combat the prevalence of NTDs in the indigenous people (IP) in Floridablanca, Pampanga.

Their study in 2022 revealed that only 2 percent of households and schools in Brgy. Mawacat and 0.5 percent in Brgy. Nabuclod have access to safe water supply and basic sanitation facilities.

During their study in 2023 in Brgy. Nabuclod and Sitio Camachile, Dr. Lorenzo Maria De Guzman, a research associate of UP Manila NTDs Study Group, reported a high prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) in children. They found that 8 out of 10 Aeta children in the community were affected by STH, specifically roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm. Additionally, lack of access to safe water was identified as a key issue contributing to poor oral health and malnutrition.

In response, the group has initiated programs such as Public Private Partnership meetings with the Floridablanca Pampanga Municipal Health Office headed by Dr. Felipe Cuyugan Jr. and treatment with albendazole for common worm infections in IP children. Health promotion and education initiatives in IP schools have also been launched with the help of nursing students from Holy Angel University.

Dr. Jose Henry Lansangan, a professor of Community Health Nursing at Holy Angel University, emphasized the different health education projects carried out by his students in the community. These initiatives include house-to-house campaigns, the creation of educational materials for the Aetas to be displayed in the community, and the production of a music video promoting the significance of good hygienic practices.

Mr. Kiko Sison, Communications Manager of San Miguel Brewery, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in such important programs.

Meanwhile, Dr. Belizario Jr. stressed the importance of raising awareness about NTDs and commended the efforts of CLMA Pampanga chapter in spreading information about their initiatives. / By Chiqui Cacal – CLMA Pampanga

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