COTABATO CITY: The Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) has sounded the alarm over the rise of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the region.
ARMM Health Secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding said these diseases include malaria, filariasis, schistosomiasis, rabies and food- and water-borne diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, NTDs “are a diverse group of diseases with distinct characteristics that thrive mainly among the poorest populations.”
DOH-ARMM records showed high cases of malaria, filariasis and schistosomiasis in the island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan. Furthermore, food- and water-borne diseases are rampant in the entire region, most commonly in coastal areas because of lack of access to potable water and the practice of open defecation.
“Ang NTDs ay problema ng buong ARMM. [NTDs are a problem of the whole ARMM] Attention had been given but it is just not enough. Kulang pa rin ang ating ginagawa natin at kulang pa rin ang response ng ating subject clients sa kanilang dapat na gagawin [The actions were are taking are not enough and the response of the subject clients is not adequate],” Sinolinding said.
Representatives of various line agencies gathered on Monday for a forum to discuss interventions made by the region to tackle NTDs.
The DOH-ARMM secretary said his agency cannot address the problem alone.
“The role of everyone is very important. With coordination and collaboration, magkakaroon ng [there will be]‘cascade effect’ from their office to their families to their community. We believe other agencies can also participate and help form solutions to this pressing problem” he said.
He added DOH-ARMM is making significant headway in combating malaria through an intensified awareness campaign, improved case detection and case holding, and the provision of better health facilities.
These interventions, he said, have brought down malaria cases in the region from 3,481 cases in 2009 to 807 in 2014.
Sinolinding said resolving the problem on NTDs is life-saving and will help address the region’s poverty concerns.