Bukidnon seeks WHO help on schistosomiasis

MALAYBALAY CITY – The Bukidnon Provincial Board passed a resolution Wednesday urging and requesting the World Health Organization to intervene and provide financial assistance for the rehabilitation of the Matin-ao Spring Resort in Bangcud, Malaybalay City.

In a resolution sponsored by lawyer Nemesio Beltran Jr, the province board is asking the WHO to declare the spring as a pilot area where they can pour scientific, medical, and financial resources to contain and eliminate 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 Bukidnon News via SMS.

Beltran said after so many years, the resort is still infected. 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.

Both resorts remained open to the public.

Matin-ao resort, a favorite destination of both foreign and local tourists in the area, has been reported to be contaminated and infected with schistosomiasis at least in the last 10 years.

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

The National Epidemiology Center, as of 2005, showed that Region 10 has the second highest cases of schistosomiasis cases in the country at 5,406. It is the 6th leading cause of death in Region 10, according to data cited by Beltran in his resolution, which was approved on May 11.

In 2003, close to 30 of Bukidnon’s 464 barangays were considered areas where schistosomiasis is endemic.

According to the Department of Health, there are at present 2,222 endemic barangays, 189 municipalities in 28 provinces in 11 regions in the Philippines.

Beltran said considering the foregoing data and information, there is an urgent need for the World Health Organization to “step in and help eradicate schistosomiasis for the sake of humanity”.

Beltran also proposed that the provincial government must create a task force to oversee the spring’s rehabilitation.

He said the disease can only be contained with the WHO’s intervention.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by parasites that enter humans through the pores of the skin. The parasites enter and migrate in the body trough the veins where parasites lay eggs and grow. Among the symptoms of acute or chronic disease include fever and cough, abdominal discomfort, blood in stools, itchiness of the skin, diarrhea, enlarged liver and spleen, weight loss, severe liver disease, anemia, jaundice, heart failure and epilepsy.

Beltran said disease can be prevented by avoiding all human skin contact with fresh water sources where schistosomiasis is endemic.

Reports on attempts to decrease or eliminate snails from fresh water sources using snail pesticides, Beltran said, have reported a decrease in the number of people infected.

“But this often requires repeat treatments and some efforts have been stopped because of limited success,” he added. (Walter I. Balane)

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