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Fireworks-Related Injuries in the Philippines Show a Substantial Decline in 2023

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The Department of Health (DoH) shared encouraging news on New Year’s Day: a marked decrease in fireworks-related injuries (FWRIs) compared to the previous year, even with lifting COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. 

This positive development is attributed to a combination of factors. It includes implementing Executive Order 28 and confining firecrackers to community fireworks displays. 

Decline in Fireworks-Related Injuries

During the surveillance period from December 21, 2023, to January 1, 2024, 231 FWRIs were reported. It is a significant decrease from the 307 cases recorded in 2022. The DoH expressed optimism, stating, “We had the lowest number of FWRIs. Our data shows that we have a new hope this year for fewer injuries by promoting community fireworks displays nationwide.”

Age Range and Severity

The human toll of these incidents spans generations. It ranges from an 11-month-old baby boy in Manila to a 76-year-old man in the Ilocos Region. The injuries ranged from minor burns to more severe cases, including three new amputations, bringing the total to 11. Such cases underscore the need for continued vigilance and preventive measures.

Regional Distribution

Regional disparities were evident, with nearly half (49 percent) of the total cases in 2023 originating from the NCR. Central Luzon and Ilocos Region contributed 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Conversely, regions such as the Davao Region, Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Central Visayas, and the Cordillera Administrative Region reported the lowest number of cases, highlighting the need for targeted interventions.

Multisectoral Responsibility

The Department of Health (DoH) has highlighted the pivotal role of multisectoral and multi-agency coordination in successfully reducing fireworks-related injuries (FWRI) numbers. This emphasis is not merely a recognition of the issue’s complexity but a call to action, recognising that addressing FWRI requires a comprehensive, collaborative effort across diverse sectors.

The DoH’s stance underscores the interconnected nature of the problem, transcending the confines of healthcare alone. In their statement, the DoH articulates that the campaign to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from fireworks is emblematic of the broader need for collective action. This collaborative approach involves the active participation and coordination of various sectors. Each sector contributes its unique strengths and resources to achieve a common public health goal.

In a statement, it emphasised, “The campaign to prevent injuries and deaths due to fireworks is a classic example of the need for collaborative efforts across various sectors, including the health sector, local governments, law enforcement, trade and industry, and families themselves.”

Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (Oneiss)

In its commitment to data accuracy and timely reporting, the DoH relies on the Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (Oneiss). This system facilitates the collection of nearly real-time and epidemiologically sound national records of FWRIs.  Consequently, this year’s surveillance captured two anticipated peak periods—the Christmas peak (December 24-26) and the New Year peak (December 31-January 1).

Impact of Executive Order 28

In 2017, the government implemented Executive Order 28. It confined firecrackers to community fireworks displays, and has played a crucial role in the observed decline of FWRIs. However, the DoH acknowledged that its impact is less pronounced than the blanket restrictions imposed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion

The DoH’s data paints an optimistic picture of a significant reduction in fireworks-related injuries in 2023.Additionally, this positive trend is a testament to the combined efforts of government initiatives, community involvement, and sustained awareness campaigns. The DoH emphasises the need for continued collaboration and reasonable restrictions to ensure a safer celebration for everyone. Therefore, as we celebrate this progress, it marks a hopeful start to the new year.

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