March 21, 2023

The Cordillera has finally achieved a malaria-free status ahead of the Philippines’ target that all provinces nationwide should be malaria-free by 2025.

Apayao is the last province to be declared malaria-free last 2021.

The region’s malaria-free status was achieved 25 years after Baguio and Benguet were first declared malaria-free in 1995.

Roy Fiaching, malaria program coordinator of the Department of Health-Cordillera, said not a single case should occur in the next five years before an area can be declared malaria-free.

To sustain the region’s malaria-free status, elimination hubs have been established in the six provinces in the region to ensure that interventions such as diagnostic, treatment, and prevention measures are in place and are accessible by the community.

Fiaching said the DOH need to step up its surveillance and reinforce the capacity of the elimination hubs to avoid indigenous transmission of the disease by people who come from areas where malaria is endemic

“Anopheles mosquitoes still exist. ‘Yung nakagat na tao pwedeng carrier nung parasite,” Fiaching said and stressed that in areas declared malaria-free, a single case will be considered an outbreak.

He advised those who exhibit signs and symptoms of malaria to immediately consult a doctor for early treatment and contact tracing.

The DOH targets to achieve a malaria-free Philippines by 2030.

As of 2021, the DOH reported that 60 of 81 provinces in the country are malaria-free.

Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bite of infected female anopheles mosquitoes.

Symptoms are fever, headache, and chills that usually appear 10 to 15 days after the infective bite. If left untreated it can progress into severe illness and death within 24 hours. – Rimaliza A. Opiña