THE Department of Health (DoH) aims to lower the incidence of malaria by 90% by 2022, with the aim of declaring the country malaria-free by 2030.

The DoH announced on Friday that out of the nation’s 81 provinces, 50 are “malaria-free” while 27 are “under elimination phase.”

Malaria remains endemic in four provinces “as the country races to be declared malaria-free by 2030,” the DoH said in a statement released on Friday.

Those four provinces are Palawan, Sulu, Occidental Mindoro, and Sultan Kudarat. Ninety-five percent of malaria cases were found in six municipalities of Southern Palawan. The remaining 5% were cases reported nationwide. Last year, four deaths from malaria were reported while 4,870 people were infected.

Malaria is transmitted through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Symptoms — including high fever, headache, and nausea — usually appear between nine to 14 days after being bitten. However, in some cases the symptoms may appear one to several month after being bitten. The disease can also be transmitted by a blood transfusion from an infected person, and possibly from mother to child before or during birth according to the DoH. Severe malaria can be fatal.

DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque emphasized that “Malaria is preventable.”

To reach the goal of reducing the malaria incidence rate by 90%, the DoH’s strategies include the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying of insecticide, and early diagnosis and treatment.

The DoH also said that other preventive measures when in endemic areas include using long sleeved clothing; applying insect repellant; utilizing mosquito nets, preferably insecticide treated; and taking prophylactic treatment when traveling to these areas. — Gillian M. Cortez