Back in the 90s, the Philippines used to be a hotbed of malaria cases. Two decades in, the country is close to becoming totally malaria-free, according to health officials and advocates..
But they believe there is still much to accomplish to completely rid the country of this dreaded disease.
At the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel on Monday, Department of Health national Malaria coordinator Dr. Raffy Deray stressed that the country was definitely on its way to being malaria-free, thanks to the efforts of some private-sector health advocates who have worked hand-in-hand with the government to curb the dreaded disease.
Deray revealed that the number of malaria cases in the country had dropped significantly in recent years, thanks to government partners who have spearheaded anti-malaria programs.
“Contrary to popular belief, the Malaria situation in the country is much better now than our neighboring countries in the Asean and even in the Asian region,” Deray stressed.
Probably the most successful anti-malaria program initiated in the country is the program initated by Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. in Palawan in 1999.
Initially referred to as the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria, the program got off the ground with a P36-million grant from Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. with the province of Palawan as its starting point.
“When we saw that the biggest problem of Palawan was its Malaria situation, we in PSFI decided to address this issue and started KLM immediately,” Edgar Veron Cruz, PSFI executive director, revealed.
Right from the start, PSFI’s KLM had to contend with 78,000 malaria cases in the province with an average of 100 deaths every year.
The project’s components were: early diagnosis and prompt treatment, vector control, social mobilization and advocacy, and an information drive and communications for behavioral change.