PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan — Members of the province’s health sector have come together to plot a roadmap for the total eradication of malaria, a recalcitrant disease that still haunts isolated communities here.
Malaria has been eradicated in all parts of the Philippines except for Palawan, according to a Department of Health study in July.
Some 470 malaria service providers and health officials representing the capital city and 17 towns of Palawan gathered here for the 14th Provincial Malaria Congress on Tuesday.
In an interview on Wednesday, Christian Jay Cojamco, the city’s public information officer, said the event gave health policy-makers and frontliners the opportunity to exchange notes on the progress of their battle against the mosquito-borne infectious disease.
He said the congress is a component of the provincial government's initiatives to eliminate malaria, which, in turn, could contribute to the Philippines being officially declared entirely free from the infectious disease.
"The objective of the event is to gather all malaria warriors from the city and the province to provide them with additional knowledge and updates, especially regarding the current status of malaria in the region," Cojamco noted.
The event, themed "Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement Formula ‘M’ (Para sa Malaria: Makiisa, Makialam, Makipagtulungan, Makibahagi)," was organized by the Provincial Health Office's Kilusan Ligtas Malaria program under the leadership of Governor Dennis Socrates in collaboration with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. and the Department of Health.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Faye Erika Labrador said their office is committed to ongoing activities and measures aimed at attaining zero malaria cases in Palawan.
She said despite the province still recording malaria cases, it is in the final stage of its battle against the mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus.
"By recognizing the existence of malaria and believing that we will illuminate our steps towards zero malaria in Palawan. We will not stop until we have eliminated malaria in the province," Labrador said.
Meanwhile, Executive Assistant IV Ma. Elizabeth Sabando, who represented the governor, underscored that the provincial administration will persist in providing healthcare infrastructure, innovative strategies, community involvement, and coordinated endeavors to achieve the goal of eliminating malaria cases in the province.
"Investment in malaria eradication stands as a testament to our commitment to the health and well-being of our people. It is an investment not only in healthcare infrastructure but also in the future of our communities, to ensure a healthier and more prosperous tomorrow," she said, relating the governor's message.
Recently, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said the Philippines can be declared malaria-free as soon as the disease is eradicated in Palawan.
He noted that the majority of reported malaria cases are concentrated in the "high mountainous areas" of Palawan.
In 2022, Palawan officially recorded 3,157 cases of indigenous malaria. (PNA)