By Dhel Nazario

A few concerted efforts will eventually help eliminate malaria as only four provinces in the country remain afflicted by the disease, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

According to Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. (PSFI) Executive Director Sebastian Quiñones Jr., these last few vulnerable groups were proving to be the most challenging to help.

Out of 81 provinces in the country, 50 have been declared malaria-free, 27 are currently in the elimination phase, leaving only four provinces as having local transmission. These are the provinces of Palawan, Sulu, Occidental Mindoro, and Sultan Kudarat.

“The mission to help communities does not stop until 100 percent elimination is achieved,” he said at a panel discussion with the DOH held in Bonifacio Global City.

PSFI said that they have taken special measures to effectively stamp out the disease before the country’s 2030 deadline to eliminate the infection.

The foundation has hired anthropologists to study the groups in order to develop non-disruptive methods for providing aid, in addition to sending regular volunteer expeditions into the mountains.

“We need to come up with proper sensitivities and strategies before we begin any efforts,” said Quiñones.

Malaria was once among the top 10 causes of morbidity in the Philippines in 1999. Through the combined effort of the PSFI, the DOH, and local government units across the nation, malaria cases have dropped from over 50,000 in Palawan alone in 1999 to less than 5,000 in 2018.

“In partnering with the DOH and the local government units, we’ve seen an 88-percent drop in reported malaria cases as well as a 99-percent drop in deaths due to the disease, based on the 2003 baseline,“ said Marvi Trudeau, PSFI’s Deputy Executive Director.

For the last 105 years of its operations in the country, Pilipinas Shell, with the DOH’s, has remained committed to helping not just the communities that it serves, but all communities throughout the nation.