By Mariela Angella Oladive
Western Visayas saw a rise in Fireworks-Related Injuries (FWRI) in the previous holiday season, ranking fifth among 17 regions in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD) during a virtual press conference on January 8.
The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the DOH WV CHD reported that 294 FWRI cases were reported in Region 6, including one death on January 1.
The DOH report also indicated that 264 people were treated and sent home, 13 were admitted to sentinel hospitals, 12 were referred to other hospitals, and four refused admission.
The fatality involved a 28-year-old male from Dao, Capiz, who suffered a severe injury on his left hand while testing his own improvised firework.
Sentinel hospitals reported 37 cases, including Western Visayas Medical Center and Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital.
Non-sentinel hospitals, such as district and tertiary facilities, contributed significantly to the overall count.
Here is the breakdown of recorded cases from six provinces and two highly urbanized cities (HUCS):
Aklan: 33 cases
Antique: 19 cases
Capiz: 19 cases (one death)
Guimaras: three cases
Iloilo Province: 97 cases
Negros Occidental: 103 cases
Bacolod City: nine cases
Iloilo City: 11 cases
This year saw a 38 percent increase in FWRI cases compared to the 213 cases reported in the previous year.
Despite the substantial increase, health authorities noted that this year’s figures, though significant, were lower than anticipated.
“We are expecting more cases because the previous year has been very quiet because of Pandemic limitations…but this year mahambal naton nga nagtaas ang cases, but we are prepared,” said Dr. Fritzi Ann Suzette Jeroso-Dequito, DOH 6 Health Promotion Unit head.
Addressing the need for a focus on healthy governance in connection with the “Iwas Paputok” campaign, she emphasized the need to strengthen policies regarding the use of firecrackers.
The majority of cases involved blasts or burns, with eye injuries also reported. Majority of those affected were males, with a median age of 20.
The firecracker with the most cases is kwitis, followed by boga, triangulo, camara, watusi, and others such as luces, pulbura, and improvised firecrackers.
Expressing gratitude, the DOH acknowledged Filipino families for their support of the “Iwas Paputok” campaign.
It stressed the ongoing importance of awareness and safety, not only during holidays but throughout the entire year.
The Department of Health reiterated its continued commitment to the campaign, urging the public to become advocates as well.
“We, at the DOH, will still continue advocating and sharing the campaign that the end goal is always having to choose healthy behavior among others, and part of it is choosing not to use fireworks during celebration,” stated Dr. Dequito.