La Union receives DOH recognition as Malaria-free

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The Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU) has received recognition from the Department of Health (DOH) for achieving the Malaria-free status in 2017, during the Integrated Disease-free Zones Awarding Ceremony held on September 13, 2018 at the Heritage Hotel, Pasay City.

The DOH presented a plaque of recognition to the PGLU, through Engr. Glenda Cabauatan, provincial malaria coordinator, who represented Gov. Francisco Emmanuel “Pacoy” R. Ortega III.

The recognition also comes with a P1-million grant, which will fund La Union’s sustainable program against Malaria.

Only ten provinces in the country received such recognition. Along with La Union are the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Bataan, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, South Cotabato, Surigao Del Sur and Mountain Province.

As a Malaria-free province, La Union recorded no indigenous malaria cases in the last five years. Through effective health governance, the province has also proven that it can sustain its Malaria-free status in the long run.

The recognition is credited to the collective efforts of all malaria stakeholders through conduct of malaria border operations through activities such as indoor residual spraying of houses, distribution of long lasting insecticide treated nets, bednet treatment, and carabao-bait trap to identify the presence of malaria vectors. The province also conducted information and education campaign (IEC) through community assemblies, distribution of IEC materials, functional referral system, capacity building and establishment malaria brigade in some endemic municipalities and barangays.

To sustain the province’s Malaria Control Program, an ordinance establishing the Malaria Elimination Hub was passed. Other strategies include increased vigilance, strengthened surveillance units, improved partnership and coordination with stakeholders, capacity building, strengthened active case detection, and intensified IEC and promotion activities. The province will also embark on continuous vector surveillance especially in vulnerable areas, where there is probability of importation of source of infection.

It has been a long bid for the province to be declared as Malaria-free. In 2007, the province almost achieved this status after no indigenous malaria case was recorded from 2002 to 2006, but failed to get the recognition after an outbreak happened in Burgos town months before the declaration. In 2013, the province sought the DOH’s recognition again, but three indigenous cases were noted during the evaluation. GLENDA R. CABAUATAN / ABN