DOH: 2009 New Year revelry bloodier than 2008

THE Department of Health (DOH) retracted its earlier declaration that firecracker-related injuries were lower this year as scores of injuries continued in hospitals post New Year’s celebration.

DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) director Eric Tayag clarified that 2009’s New Year revelry is more bloody compared to the previous year as the number of injuries as of January 3 rose 920, which is 26 percent higher to the those injured in 2008 with only 683 cases.

Tayag said out of the total number of cases this year, 877 were fireworks related; 42 stray bullet cases; and one watusi ingestion. There were also three reported dead according to some reports, he said.

Statistics from the NEC surveillance report also showed that 704 of the victims were males; 268 were children less than 10 years of age; 671 with injuries but no amputation; 81 with amputation; 74 with influence of alcohol; and 125 with eye injuries.

The leading cause of firecracker injuries was Piccolo with 267 cases; followed by Kwitis, 123; Luces, 57; Five-star, 53; stray bullet, 42; and Pla-pla, 41

Tayag cited three reasons for the increase of injuries this year; first, that there were a lot of merry-making because the decade had ended; second, that a lot of Filipinos seemed to be happier this year according to surveys; and third, due to the low price of Piccolo, which despite being banned, still reach the hands of mostly children.

The DOH-NEC director also expressed his disappointment over the rise of injuries this year despite their strenuous campaign, the “Iwas Paputok” 2009 program, which started since November 2009.

On January 1, 2010, the DOH reported that there were only 597 cases of firecracker-related injuries, which is supposedly 15 percent lower than 702 cases recorded in the 2008 revelries. However, more cases were recorded in hospitals during the weekend which grew the number of victims.

Tayag said they have been appealing to the police for the last two years to enforce a ban on the deceptively innocent-looking firecrackers that children found attractive, but in some local governments in Metro Manila, it was evident that banned firecrackers are still being sold in streets.

The DOH has actively campaigned on the ban against firecrackers with television ads, posters, billboards, tarpaulins placed in hospitals and government infrastructures nationwide and coordinated with police to confiscate banned firecrackers being sold in markets.

“I think our local government leaders should coordinate next year for them to have a more concrete protocol against the ban on fireworks in their jurisdictions,” he said.

Tayag said they are also expecting that the number of firecracker-related injuries will continue to rise as they will record all cases up to Wednesday (January 5).

Meanwhile, Tayag warned victims of firecrackers that if they failed to seek immediate treatment after sustaining wounds, they can have tetanus that actually lead to death.

The DOH said that tetanus is an acute bacterial disease caused by Clostridium tetani. Although deep wound is needed to support the growth of the bacteria, minor wound is usually the point of entry in children and adults. The incubation period of tetanus could be as short as one day to, usually three to 21 days.

Tayag said injuries sustained from fireworks should be washed immediately with soap and water and referred to medical personnel for proper wound care and tetanus immunization.

Symptoms of tetanus includes severe headache, irritable behavior, weakness, and lock jaw.
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