by Jane B. Cadalig
The Department of Health will declare Mountain Province as malaria-free locality on April 25.
The province will join the ranks of Benguet and Abra to be declared malaria-free after having recorded zero indigenous cases of the dreaded disease in the last five years. Zero indigenous case means that no case originated in an area.
Dr. Alexei Marrero, head of the DOH Infectious Diseases Cluster, said the official declaration of Mountain Province as malaria-free will highlight the observance of World Malaria Day on April 25.
The DOH, however remains vigilant against malaria cases in the Cordillera even if more provinces are achieving the zero-malaria case target.
“While more provinces are achieving zero cases, we should be wary of possible re-introduction of the disease. Malaria can be re-introduced through the Overseas Filipino Workers coming from malaria-endemic countries like Africa and Papua New Guinea,” he said.
Marrero added the provinces must sustain their efforts in keeping their localities free from the dreaded disease, which remains a global health concern.
In the Philippines, malaria is ninth of the leading cause of sickness. Last year 6,552 cases and six deaths were recorded in the country.
Out of 81 provinces in the country, 58 were declared malaria-free.
In the Cordillera, the DOH has not recorded any indigenous case in the past two years. The last indigenous case was recorded in Apayao in 2015.
For a province to be declared malaria-free, it should not have recorded any indigenous case for five consecutive years.
Marrero said Ifugao and Kalinga will soon be declared malaria-free if the provinces sustain their zero indigenous case status.