Bicol fails to meet zero score in firecracker victims as DOH lists 24 patients

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH)'s campaign for a zero-casualty goal in terms of firecracker injuries did not work out in the Bicol Region after it registered 24 cases during the period Dec. 21-Dec. 26.

A DOH report on Saturday said Albay topped the list with 16 cases; followed by Camarines Sur, 6, and Masbate, with only 2.

No casualty was reported in the provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

The victims of firecracker-related injuries were mostly minors (67 percent), with “piccolo” as the leading injury-causing firecracker.

The DOH records indicated that there were 89 cases of firecracker injuries last year while there were 93 cases in 2013.

Doctor Evi Sarmiento, DOH Bicol Action Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) program coordinator, said in a phone interview that the number of injuries for this initial period slightly increased as compared to 21 cases reported at the same period last year.

Sarmiento lamented that the campaign would have made it if only the ban on firecrackers had been strictly enforced.

She said piccolo and the watusi firecrackers have been banned in the market but despite this, the products are still being sold, especially in sari-sari stores across the region.

These types of firecrackers are commonly bought by minors who are the usual victims of firecracker injuries, the DOH official said.

She even cited a 9-year-old boy from Pili, Camarines Sur who was rushed and confined on Thursday at the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City after suffering from a serious wound at his back due to a piccolo blast.

Sarmiento said the zero-casualty campaign could have been met, had the firecracker ban been strictly enforced by the police and the local government units.

She said LGUs can totally enforce the total ban on the sale of firecrackers in their locality.

Since the majority of victims are minors, Sarmiento asked parents and teachers to teach their children alternative ways in celebrating the holiday season without the use of firecrackers.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/pjn