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Palawan Unites to Eliminate Malaria: A Roadmap for a Malaria-Free Future

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Within the landscapes of Palawan, a determined effort is underway to liberate the province from the clutches of a longstanding adversary – malaria. While other regions in the Philippines celebrate the triumphant eradication of this mosquito-borne disease, Palawan stands as the final frontier in the relentless battle against malaria.

The recently concluded 14th Provincial Malaria Congress served as a rallying point. It brought together 470 healthcare providers and officials from the capital city and 17 towns of Palawan. The event symbolised a united front against this recalcitrant disease.

Status of Malaria in the Philippines

Based on the data gathered by the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) in 2018, it can be observed that there is a high incidence rate of malaria seen in MIMAROPA. MIMAROPA consists of the following regions: Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan. Among the four regions, Palawan has the highest number of recorded cases of malaria, garnering 10,583.

Status of Malaria in Palawan

A Department of Health study in July indicated that Palawan remains the last bastion of malaria in the Philippines. Despite formidable challenges, health officials maintain a steadfast optimism and an unwavering commitment to achieving a malaria-free status for the province. The stark reality is evident in the 2022 statistics. Palawan officially recorded 3,157 cases of indigenous malaria. It highlighted the persistent threat, particularly in the high mountainous areas.

The Provincial Malaria Congress

The congress, organised by the Provincial Health Office’s Kilusan Ligtas Malaria program in collaboration with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. and the Department of Health, served as a pivotal platform for health policy-makers and frontliners to exchange insights on the progress made in combating malaria. The event was aptly themed “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement Formula ‘M’,” underscoring the urgency and multifaceted approach required for success.

Objectives and Commitments

Christian Jay Cojamco, the city’s public information officer, shed light on the primary objective of the event. It was to gather all “malaria warriors” in the city and the province, providing them with comprehensive knowledge and timely updates on the current status of malaria in the region. Provincial Health Officer Dr Faye Erika Labrador passionately reiterated the commitment to achieve zero malaria cases in Palawan. Dr. Labrador emphasised that the province is currently in the final stage of the battle against this infectious disease.

Executive Assistant IV Ma. Elizabeth Sabando, representing Governor Dennis Socrates, reiterated the provincial administration’s unwavering commitment to eradicating the disease. She underscored the importance of investing not only in healthcare infrastructure but also in innovative strategies, community involvement, and coordinated efforts. This investment, she stressed, is not merely in healthcare but in securing a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow for Palawan’s communities.

The Road Ahead

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa expressed confidence that the Philippines can be officially declared malaria-free once Palawan achieves eradication. He pointed out that the majority of reported cases are concentrated in the high mountainous areas. Therefore, there is a need for focused efforts in these regions. Secretary Herbosa’s insights underscore the importance of a targeted, region-specific approach in the final push toward a malaria-free Philippines.

Conclusion

As Palawan charts its course towards a malaria-free future, the unity and commitment displayed at the 14th Provincial Malaria Congress serve as a beacon of hope. Therefore, healthcare providers, officials, and the community are working hand in hand to eradicate the disease. If successful, it will contribute significantly to the nationwide goal of a Philippines entirely free from this infectious disease. The efforts in Palawan, underscored by resilience and dedication, illuminate the path forward and exemplify the collective strength required to overcome the final challenges in this fight. Consequently, the province’s journey serves as an inspiration for regions worldwide grappling with the persistent threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

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