MANILA — Twenty more cases of firecracker- and stray bullet-related injuries were recorded by the Department of Health (DOH)-Epidemiology Bureau, bringing the total number to 131 with one death as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the eighth day of the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction 2015” campaign.

According to DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin, of the 131 cases, 128 were caused by fireworks/firecrackers and three by stray bullets.

The stray bullet fatality was a nine-year-old girl from Norzagaray, Bulacan who was hit at the back as she was playing in the neighborhood on Dec. 24, Christmas eve.

The girl was not immediately taken to the hospital because her mother did not suspect at all that a stray bullet was the culprit in the bleeding at the back of her daughter.

She was later rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) in Quezon City after it was noticed that something was not normal in her condition.

However, the girl died later despite surgical operations done at her because she developed kidney and liver failure since she was not brought immediately to the hospital for early health interventions.

The DOH, saddened over the incident, expressed condemnation of irresponsible gun owners who are engaging in indiscriminate firing activities during holiday celebrations.

“This should have not happened if only gun owners are responsible. There are many ways to celebrate the holidays and firing guns indiscriminately is definitely not an option,” Secretary Garin said.

As of this date, no case of fireworks/firecrackers ingestion has been recorded so far.

Secretary Garin said that “Piccolo,” a dangerous and prohibited firecracker in the country, remained as the primary cause of injuries numbering 97 or 76 percent of the overall total.

The said firecracker is attractive to children and despite the fact that it is illegal and the selling of it to minors is prohibited, still some children are getting injured by it.

Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, DOH spokesperson, said they are calling on the community leaders, especially the barangay captains and councilors, to strictly monitor their constituents and also those who may be selling the same to the children in the community.

“Umaapela kami (to the barangay captains, councilors)… Kasi ‘di natin alam, baka ang susunod na maaksidente, ‘wag naman sana, ay apo n’yo o anak n’yo…Kasi pwedeng sila ay maputukan kahit ‘di nga bumibili pero napadaan sa umpukan ng nag-iinuman at nagkataong may naghagis…,” Dr. Lee-Suy said.

He added that the painful consequences are the disabilities such as losing of eyesight, amputation, skin abrasion that can leave scars which can lead to loss or productivity, depression or other related conditions.

Other firecracker-causing injuries were 5 Star (4 percent), kwitis (2 percent), Sparkler (2 percent), and other unknown firecrackers (6 percent).

Most fireworks-related injuries came from the National Capital Region (NCR) with 57 cases or 43 percent; followed by Region 5 (Bicol) with 26 cases or 19 percent; and Region 11 (Davao) with 14 cases or 10 percent.

In the NCR, most cases were from Manila with 18 out of 57 cases or 32 percent; 15 cases or 26 percent were from Quezon City; and eight cases or 14 percent were from Mandaluyong.

“Instead of firecrackers, the public is encouraged to use safe merry-making instruments and alternative noise-makers such as ‘torotot’, car horns, or by playing loud music,” Secretary Garin said.

She also called on the local government units (LGUs) to foster community fireworks display to minimize household or individual firework/firecracker use.

Meanwhile, she reminded the public that in case a firecracker injury happens, the wounds must be immediately washed with clean running water until all visible dirt and gunpowder residue are removed.

“The patient must immediately be rushed to the nearest health facility for proper medical attention,” she added.

Since Dec. 21, the DOH has placed all its retained hospitals and facilities under “Code White” to ensure that all DOH hospitals are prepared to attend to injuries related to fireworks.

“The only countdown that should be monitored this year is the remaining days until we celebrate the New Year, and not the number of injuries and deaths of innocent people. Let us have a healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year,” the Health Chief stressed. Leilani S. Junio/PNA/