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ARMM holds stakeholders’ forum on NTDs

Cotabato City (20 April 2015) – The Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) held a stakeholders forum Monday to help address cases of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the region.

According to the World Health Organization, NTDs “are a diverse group of diseases with distinct characteristics that thrive mainly among the poorest populations.”

In the ARMM, these diseases include malaria, filariasis, schistosomiasis, rabies and food and water borne diseases.

ARMM Health Secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding said the forum was aimed at strengthening ties among regional line agencies to totally eradicate these diseases because they affect a significant number of the region’s population.

DOH-ARMM records show high cases of malaria, filariasis and schistosomiasis in the island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan. Further, food and water borne diseases are rampant in the entire region, most commonly in coastal areas due to the lack of access to potable water and the prevalent practice of open defecation.

"Ang NTDs ay problema ng buong ARMM. Attention had been given but it is just not enough. Kulang pa rin ang ating ginagawa natin at kulang parin ang response ng ating subject clients sa kanilang dapat na gagawin," Sinolinding said.

Representatives of various line agencies gathered on Monday’s forum to discuss interventions made by the region to tackle NTDs.

Sinolinding said his agency cannot address the problem alone. “The role of everyone is very important. With coordination and collaboration, magkakaroon ng 'cascade effect' from their office to their families to their community. We believe other agencies can also participate and help form solutions to this pressing problem."

He said DOH-ARMM is making significant headway in combating malaria through an intensified awareness campaign, improved case detection and case holding, and the provisions of better health facilities.

These interventions, he said, have brought down malaria cases in the region from 3,481 cases in 2009 to 807 as of 2014.

Sinolinding said resolving the problem on NTDs is life-saving and will help address the region’s poverty concerns. (Bureau of Public Information)
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