MANILA, Philippines – The provinces of Camarines Sur, Batanes, Dinagat Islands and Romblon are malaria-free, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.
DOH also declared the provinces of Biliran and Marinduque as rabies-free while Marinduque, Albay, and Eastern Samar are filariasis-free.
DOH said these provinces will be honored with disease-free zone awards to recognize their efforts and also to challenge them to maintain the status.
"The move to declare these provinces as disease-free is a culmination of all our efforts including those of the local government," Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a statement.
"The challenge now is to secure, strengthen, and sustain the commitment from the local government units to take ownership and responsibility for the management of the malaria, filariasis and rabies control programs, for effective, efficient, and sustained implementation within their respective localities and for these programs to be expanded to more provinces", Ona added.
The number of malaria cases has been reduced by 80% from 2005 to 2011, according to DOH data.
The number of malaria-related deaths has also been reduced by 93%, surpassing the 2011 UN Millennium Development Goals.
Filariasis, meanwhile, had been previously eliminated in Southern Leyte, Sorsogon, Biliran, Bukidnon, Romblon, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Cotabato, and Compostela Valley.
Rabies, however, remains as a serious public health problem in the country, according to DOH.
The disease is responsible for the deaths of 200 to 300 Filipinos every year.
DOH launched the Disease-Free Zone initiatives in 2007.