Philippines on verge of attaining MALARIA-FREE status

Source:  Department of Health (Philippines)

Asiia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network Press Conference, 11 mARCH 2014, New World Hotel, Makati City
(foto from left; Prof. Gao Qi (APMEN Board Chair), Dr. Thomas Teuscher (Roll Back Malaria Partnership), Sir Richard Feachem (APMEN VI Co-Chair), Asec. Enrique Tayag (DOH/ APMEN CO-CHAIR) Mr. Edgar Chua (Shell Companies in the Phil Country Chairman), Dr. Mark Jacobs (WHO), Dr. Susann Roth (ADB)

The Philippines is on course of eliminating malaria in the Philippines by 2020. Today at the 2014 Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) VI in Makati, the Philippines joins other country partners in the region to share country successes and challenges in malaria elimination and preparation of plans that will focus on regional cooperation, advocacy, knowledge exchange and capacity-building.

“We are pleased to welcome the Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN), a network of 14 Asia-Pacific countries working towards the elimination of malaria as a public health threat in each of our countries, as they hold their 6th annual meeting here,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona declared.

The Health Chief noted that malaria cases in the country declined since the mid-2000s, and has resulted in an 83% reduction from 2005 to 2013, while there was a 92% reduction in the number of deaths within the same period. The number of cases went down from 46,342 cases in 2005 to 7,720 in 2013. Deaths were 150 in 2005 to 12 to last year. The Philippines has achieved the Millennium Development Goal target for 2015 as early as 2008.

Of fifty-three (53) known provinces are endemic for the disease but 27 have already been declared malaria-free. These were Cavite, Batangas, Marinduque, Catanduanes, Albay, Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Northern Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Camiguin, Surigao Del Norte, Benguet, Romblon, Batanes and Dinagat Islands.

Malaria is a disease caused by parasite called Plasmodium. It is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito vector, Anopheles. The disease usually thrives in the rural and hard-to-reach areas such as in the hills, mountains and coastal areas. Disease transmission is perennial and generally higher during the rainy season.

High-risk groups consist of upland subsistence farmers, forest workers, indigenous people and settlers in frontier areas, including migrant agricultural workers. Children under-five are also considered to be at high risk, including pregnant women.

Secretary Ona looks forward for the success of the meeting and the recommendations of the country partners in galvanizing workable and sustainable solutions that seek to address gaps in accelerating malaria elimination while fostering regional cooperation and promoting scientific breakthroughs.

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