With community support, Bukidnon can control schistosomiasis – DOH official

MALAYBALAY CITY – The Department of Health can control schistosomiasis in Bukidnon with the help of the community using a mix of ways, primarily mass treatment, Dr. Ricardo Reyes, DOH provincial health team leader said.

He said there is a need to focus on mass treatment as an intervention to address schistosomiasis in the province where there are 53 out of its 464 barangays considered to be endemic or where there are observed prevalence of cases.

Reyes gave his reaction when asked about a provincial board resolution requesting the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene and provide financial assistance for the rehabilitation of the Matin-ao Spring Resort in Bangcud, Malaybalay City to “contain and eliminate schistosomiasis.”

The resolution sponsored by lawyer Nemesio Beltran Jr., seeks the assistance of WHO to declare the spring as a pilot area where they can pour scientific, medical, and financial resources to prevent schistosomiasis.

“The problem is too complicated that we have to ask them to intervene. The provincial government does not have the money and technical expertise to solve the schistosomiasis problem,” he told MindaNews last week.

But Reyes said schistosomiasis in Bukidnon has dropped to 3.5 percent prevalence rate in 2010 compared to the 4.72 percent rate in 2.72. This is far from the 15.81 percent in 1981, the year when the highest number of infections in the province was recorded.

In 2010, DOH reported a total of 495 schistosomiasis cases out of 13, 877 stool samples they tested in Bukidnon. The top four of the seven towns and two cities where the cases are located  were traced to Valencia City (104), San Fernando town (98), Malaybalay City (61), and Quezon town (28).

Among the 53 endemic barangays, the most numbers are traced to Valencia and Malaybalay cities.

But the barangay with the highest number of positive cases in 2010 is San Jose in San Fernando town with 54 positive cases of the 340 examined.

Of the 53, five were considered to be “highly endemic” areas (10 percent above, prevalence rate), and 18 “moderately endemic” (5 to 9.99 percent rate). The rest, th3 30 barangays have below 5 percent rates or are “low endemic” barangays.

He said the DOH and the local government, with the help of the community and other stakeholders can control schistosomiasis in Bukidnon.

Matin-ao resort, a favorite destination of both foreign and local tourists, has reportedly been contaminated and infected with schistosomiasis in the last 10 years.

The provincial government has prohibited bathing in the resort inside its seven-hectare property, but visitors manage to sneak in and bathe in the spring resort’s cool waters.

He added he will also file another resolution to include in the piloting the Atugan Resort pool in Manolo Fortich.  “It is also contaminated,” he said, a statement refuted by the DOH schistosomiasis control team. The DOH said the municipal government of Impasug-ong has assumed responsibility after a DOH team inspected the area, found snails in the area, but cleared it of schistosomiasis at the moment.

Both resorts have remained open to the public.

Dr. Vincent Raguro, DOH Bukidnon schistosomiasis control team leader, said the DOH marked the Matin-ao spring site as infected since 2005 warning the public against bathing in the resort. But he said reports point to vendors who allegedly removed the concrete signage.

He said only two of the 11 springs in the area where there are colonies of schistosomiasis carrying snails have remained infected.

But he said it has not yet been cleared from infection.

As early 2005, he said, they have pushed that the spring resort be closed from public use because of the infection. But he said barangay officials invoked a resolution declaring the resort a tourist destination in their opposition. BukidnonNews is yet to reach barangay officials of Bangcud for comments.

Dr. Jose Tiongco, chief executive officer of the Medical Mission Group Hospitals and Health Services Cooperative-Philippines Federation, told MindaNews a major aspect to consider is open defecation in infected areas.

He said other areas have considered building public toilets. But in most cases the public has to pay to use the toilets. He said in some areas it is the government who pay the users because the human waste are used to produce biomass energy.

According to the WHO, schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, is a parasitic disease caused by trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma.  Larval forms of the parasites, which are released by freshwater snails, penetrate the skin of people in the water.

“In the body, the larvae develop into adult schistosomes, which live in the blood vessels. The females release eggs, some of which are passed out of the body in the urine or faeces. Others are trapped in body tissues, causing an immune reaction,” it said.

“In urinary schistosomiasis, there is progressive damage to the bladder, ureters and kidneys. In intestinal schistosomiasis, there is progressive enlargement of the liver and spleen, intestinal damage, and hypertension of the abdominal blood vessels,” the WHO website said.

Control of schistosomiasis is based on “drug treatment, snail control, improved sanitation and health education.” (Walter I. Balane)

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One Response

  1. i am elated to know that we have a scisto control team in bukidnon led by dr. Vincent raguro.they have monitored that scisto is endemic in 53 out of our 464 barangays and valencia malaybalay and san fernando have the most numbers of infected persons. The reason for this is that these lgus have large tracts of rice paddies where snails thrive and dwell. Perhaps d team of raguro should conduct briefings in the rice paddy-barangays on how to prevent being infected by scisto. As to the atugan pool, its a welcome news if indeed the pool is already treated.as to matin.an spring i am informed that there is only medicinal drug that can be used to eradicate scisto.problem is that drug is already a banned substance. Its different to treat people infected with scisto from treating infected pools and rice paddies. Still I hope the team of dr.raguro would not stop finding solutions to rid matin.ao of scisto and to teach the people working in the rice paddies on how to prevent being infected by the disease.

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