DOH eyes total firecracker ban

THE Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday it is eyeing a total firecracker ban throughout the country to achieve zero casualty rate during the annual New Year celebrations.

This was announced by Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde during a New Year’s Day press conference at the DOH Central Office in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Villaverde said they are alarmed over the increasing number of fireworks-related injuries and casualties every year.

The DOH official said they would be pushing for a total ban on the use of firecrackers as the government is doing its best during the last two decades convincing Filipinos to do away with lighting up firecrackers during the New Year revelry.

Villaverde noted that the increase in number of injuries was due to the proliferation of cheap, low quality and prohibited piccolo that injured a bigger number of children.

A significant big number of bystanders who were injured and a high percentage of active users under the influence of alcohol contributed to the increase.

“We appeal to those injured to see a doctor immediately to prevent tetanus, a highly fatal result of wounds caused by firecrackers,” Villaverde said, adding that the “Kampanya Kontra Paputok” surveillance ends Jan. 5.

Villaverde and Health Undersecretary David Lozada reported 546 injuries since Dec. 21, 2010, seven percent higher than those reported in the same period last year. A total of 512 injuries were reported in the previous year’s celebrations, of which 421 were firecrackers-related.

Of the 546 reported injuries as of end-2010, a total of 518 were fireworks-related, 20 were due to stray bullets, and eight due to firework ingestion or poisoning, said Villaverde.

Piccolo, “kwitis” and “pla-pla” were the three types of firecrackers which caused the most number of injuries, he added.

“I don’t want to play with firecrackers anymore,” cried a young boy identified only as “Bobot” as he was treated for burns on the eyes at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila.

Many other victims, mostly children, waited for their turns at the emergency and trauma ward, which was on heightened alert in anticipation of New Year-related injuries.

There were also several patients with stab wounds sustained during drunken brawls in New Year’s Eve parties, DoH officials said.

Lozada said the National Capital Region (NCR) ranked first with the most number of injuries with 301 cases while Region 1 followed with 35 cases. Western Visayas had the third largest number of firework-related injuries with 29 cases, he added. PNA

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