Koronadal City—The province of South Cotabato retains its Malaria-free status after seven years, Malaria Program Coordinator Jose Baroquillo announced during the flag-raising ceremony recently.
“The province of South Cotabato was declared Malaria-free last July of 2017. This year marks the seventh year of our efforts to remain free from this disease. It is a great achievement,” Baroquillo said.
According to reports, South Cotabato was the first province in the region to be declared malaria-free.
To sustain the recognition, his team conducts regular border operations to ensure no new malaria cases entered the South Cotabato area.
“We are thankful that our neighbor province Sultan Kudarat is declared malaria-free. However, the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) is still intensifying its watch over the boundaries to ensure the disease cannot penetrate South Cotabato.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that all provinces achieved malaria-free status except Palawan, but the Philippines aims for a malaria-free country by 2030.
Barroquillo said South Cotabato was declared free of the disease when the province logged zero local malaria transmission in the past five years before 2017.
In 2005, a malaria outbreak was recorded in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, following another major incident in the area in 2007 that affected 80 people. However, with the convergence efforts of the barangay, municipal, and provincial health authorities, from 584 in 2004, the indigenous case of malaria in the province went down to only two in 2011 or a reduction of 99.66 percent.
“We face the bigger task of maintaining a clean record for malaria,” he added.