Government’s 'Iwas Paputok' campaign results in lower injury cases this New Year

January 2, 2010 1:10 am 

By Francis M. Bilowan

MANILA, Jan. 1 – The Department of Health (DOH) said Friday the government’s campaign against the use of banned fireworks proved to be successful as the number of firecracker-related injuries this New Year celebration is lower than last year.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) recorded a total of 597 New Year revelers injured during the celebration, of which 571 people were injured by firecrackers and 26 by stray bullets.

“This is the fourth lowest number of firework-related injuries recorded in the country in the annual 'Iwas Paputok' surveillance in the past decade,” Duque said.

Citing statistics, he said the number of cases decreased by 15 percent compared to the previous year when there were 702 injuries (683 from fireworks, 17 from stray bullets and two from watusi ingestion). It also decreased by 153 cases (20 percent) compared to the five-year average from 2004-2008.

Firework injuries affected ages from two months-75 years, median 13 years, mostly males (456 or 80 percent). Three hundred fifty-three (62 percent) were active users, 453 (79 percent) had blast/burn injuries without amputation, 39 (six percent) had blast/burn injuries with amputation and 78 (15 percent) had eye injuries.

Piccolo was the single most frequently used firecracker that caused 208 (36 percent) firework injuries. Piccolo is cheap and easily accessible to children. Piccolo was recommended for banning since 2007.

This year, the PNP intensified its campaign to ban Piccolo. However, injuries from Piccolo increased by 100 cases or 93 percent compared to last year. Without these, the total number of injuries would have been significantly lower.

Meanwhile, stray bullet injuries increased by nine cases (53 percent) compared to the previous year. Ages ranged from eight to 51 years. Cases were mostly from NCR with 18 cases or 69 percent.

The DOH chief said the lower firecracker-related injuries may be attributed to the government's scare tactics and to more cautious use of fireworks.

“We were relentless in our drive against firework use. In fact, we even employed scare tactics that showed the public vivid images of severely mangled limbs and a tray of surgical instruments used for limb amputation,” Duque explained.

The public too may have welcomed the New Year with injury-free alternative merry-making devices such as the "torotot" and blaring radios. Also, the health chief attributed the decrease in the number of cases to more ways of celebrating the New Year such as concerts, street parties and public display of fireworks in open spaces which are done by pyrotechnic professionals.

“Overall, we are pleased with the continually decreasing number of firework-related injuries which we recorded in the past years. We continue to advocate for safer ways of welcoming the New Year. We also advise those injured to go to the nearest health facility to get anti-tetanus shots,” Duque said.

Secretary Duque also acknowledged the efforts of hospitals, both public and private, for attending to injured patients during the revelry and for reporting cases to the DOH-NEC.

“I also thank local government units who have successfully implemented our DOH 'Kontra Paputok' program, which contributed to the successful decrease in the number of this year’s fireworks-related injuries,” Duque concluded. (PNA) FFC/FMB

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