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Malaria-free Philippines eyed in 2020

The Philippines is moving toward being certified as malaria-free by 2020, health authorities announced on Wednesday.

According to the Department of Health (DoH), malaria cases in the country is continuously decreasing since 2000.

DoH Secretary Enrique T. Ona said there was an 83 percent reduction in cases from 2005 to 2013 and 92 percent drop in deaths.

Ona made this announcement at the recent 6th annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) in Makati where 14 countries shared their success stories in eliminating the disease caused by the female Anopheles mosquito.

The Anopheles mosquito transmits a parasite called Plasmodiun that causes malaria. The mosquito thrives in remote areas such as hills, mountain tops and coastal areas. Disease transmission is higher in the rainy season, the DoH noted.

High risk groups include farmers, forest workers, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers.

From 46,342 cases and 150 deaths in 2005, malaria cases were reduced to 7,720 and 12 deaths in 2013.

Due to this, Ona said the Philippines has achieved the Millennium Development Goal target for malaria for 2015 as early as 2008.

The United Nations initiated MDG 6 which talks about eliminating malaria and reversing its incidence by 2015.

Earlier, the DoH declared 27 provinces as malaria-free. These are Cavite, Batangas, Marinduque, Catanduanes, Albay, Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Northern Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Camiguin. Surigao del Norte, Benguet, Romblon, Batanes and Dinagat islands.