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Malaria cases in ARMM down in 1st quarter of 2016

COTABATO CITY – Malaria cases in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) went down significantly in the first quarter of 2016, the region’s Health department (DOH-ARMM) reported.

Only 33 malaria cases were reported region-wide in the first quarter compared with a quarterly average of roughly 68 cases last year. Twenty-one of the reported cases monitored from January to March this year are from Sulu province while Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao have nine and three cases, respectively.

Earlier, DOH-ARMM officials said the number of malaria cases in the region went down to 274 cases last year from 3,539, or a quarterly average of close to 900 cases, in 2012.

Dr. Kadil Sinolinding, regional Health secretary, described the consistent decline in malaria cases in ARMM as a major accomplishment for the agency and the regional government. He noted that “malaria is a disease that has a big chance of eradication with the help of various stakeholders.”

On Monday, May 2, the Health department conducted a forum aimed at strengthening its partnership with various stakeholders including regional line agencies and DOH-ARMM employees. It also sought the renewal of commitments in totally eliminating malaria in the region.

The Health department said no death from the disease was recorded in ARMM in the first quarter of 2016. Malaria mortality rate in the region decreased to four deaths in 2015 from six deaths in 2010.

The region was earlier allotted P8 million for its malaria control efforts. The amount was distributed to the region’s different provinces with priority to areas that suffered most from malaria in the past.

The malaria control budget was downloaded to the region from the regular funds of the National Government and from other funding institutions such as Global Fund, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., Movement Against Malaria, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Sinolinding emphasized that the “best weapon in combating malaria is right knowledge and right attitude.” He advised residents to observe preventive measures such as wearing pyjamas and long-sleeve shirts and using mosquito nets when sleeping.

DOH-ARMM, Dr. Sinolinding said, conducts on-site diagnostic tests and provides free treatment for malaria patients, which extends from three days to a month depending on the severity of the case. The department also distributes chemically treated mosquito nets to endemic areas in the region.

Malaria is a disease of the blood caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It is transmitted from person to person by the female Anopheles mosquito. This type of mosquito primarily bites between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. The disease can also be transmitted through blood transfusion and needle sharing.

Malaria symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting. It begins 10 days to four weeks after infection, although a person infected may feel ill as early as seven days after the mosquito bite.

Malaria infection can develop into anemia, hypoglycaemia, or cerebral malaria in which capillaries carrying blood to the brain are blocked. Cerebral malaria can cause coma, life-long learning disabilities, and even death. (Bureau of Public Information)

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