DOH BEGINS OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN AND SURVEILLANCE ON FIRECRACKER-RELATED INJURIES

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Monday the start of its official countdown and surveillance on firecracker-related injuries ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

At the same time, the Health department reminded once more the public to be extra cautious to ensure that the celebrations will be free from injuries by staying away from illegal and prohibited firecrackers.

“The official count together with sentinel hospitals begins today…,” Health Secretary Janette L. Garin said in a press briefing held at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila.

With the official count starting at midnight (12 a.m.) of Dec. 21 (Monday), the recording of the number of firecracker-related injuries will be back to zero — meaning the previous count will not be included anymore.

Secretary Garin said that prior to the start of the official count — which is conducted every year from Dec. 21 of the current year until Jan. 5 of the coming year — there were already 10 firecracker-related injuries recorded as of Dec. 20 (Sunday).

Dr. Garin said that out of the 10 victims, eight were children with ages ranging from five to 12 years. All of them were males and three were from Laguna.

Still, the number one culprit is the illegal “piccolo” firecracker, followed by “watusi.”

“Ikinalulungkot natin na mga bata pa rin ang naaapektuhan,” the Health Chief said.

She said the good news is that so far there is no reported case yet in Metro Manila.

“Sana panatilihin natin na ganito dahil ang Metro Manila ay nagiging focus ng mga biktima ng paputok in the past years,” she added.

Garin recalled that it was in Manila wherein the highest number of cases of firecracker-related injuries was recorded last year, followed by Quezon City

“For 2015, we are very happy that as of this point in time, wala pang victim sa Metro Manila,” she said.

Prior to the press briefing, the DOH had launched an “Anti-Paputok Campaign” in Barangay 128, Tondo, Manila, wherein the Health Secretary and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada urged the public to ensure that Manila would be free from firecracker injuries this year.

As a reminder, Garin said that parents should not buy firecrackers as gifts to their children, aside from preventing their children from buying or picking firecrackers.

She repeated her previous advice for the public to do away with firecrackers and instead shift to fireworks displays.

The Health official also warned those who are selling prohibited firecrackers to minors.

“Ang pagbebenta po ng piccolo at whistle bomb ay illegal… Pwede pong isumbong sa Philippine National Police (PNP) at sa local na pamahalaan ang nagbebenta nito dahil may kaakibat na mga penalties,” she said.

She likewise reminded the gun owners to be responsible and avoid indiscriminate firing of guns as a way of merrymaking during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Meanwhile, the DOH also announced that “Code White Alert” is raised officially in all DOH hospitals, regional offices and facilities nationwide starting Monday.

“Code White Alert” puts all hospital personnel for deployment and augmentation as the need arises for medical and other services.

Under this condition, all equipment and medicines are also readied in enough numbers for immediate use during emergency cases. Leilani Junio/PNA