DOH: Firecracker-related injuries down by 35%

THE Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, January 1, reported a 35 percent decrease in firecracker-related injuries this year as compared to last year.

In a press conference, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said there were 164 firecracker-related injuries recorded from December 21, 2019 to January 1, 2020 (6 a.m.), as compared to 251 cases reported during the same period last year.

"We were able to reduce cases by as much as 35 percent. This is indeed a welcome development," said Duque.

Of those injured, the DOH said 116 sustained blast/burn injuries not requiring amputation, 43 eye injuries, and 7 blast/burn injuries requiring amputation.

Hands remain as the most injured body part with 52; followed by eyes with 43; and head with 22.

Legal fireworks kwitis (33), luces (19), and fountain (18) were found to be the top causes of injuries, while previous topnotcher piccolo, which is an illegal firecracker, accounted for 13 cases.

Most of the injuries happened in the National Capital Region with 84; followed by Calabarzon with 13; Ilocos Region with 12; and Central Luzon with 11.

In Metro Manila, the City of Manila has the most cases with 27; followed by Quezon City with 19; Mandaluyong City with 9; Marikina City with 7; and Las Piñas City with 7.

Seven in 10 victims of firecrackers were males with 114 (70%).

Also, 104 cases (63%) of the victims were children aged 15 years old and below.

The DOH report also pointed that 2 in every 5 of those injured or 65 cases (40%) involved passive users, or those not using firecrackers; while 99 others were active firecracker users.

However, there were neither cases of fireworks ingestion nor stray bullet injury.

The DOH also said there have been no deaths reported due to firecracker-related injuries.

Duque attributed the lower number of cases to the continuing effect of the Executive Order No. 28 of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We would like to think that the Executive Order No. 28 has had an impact as indeed for the last three years - 2017 and continued on to 2019. Data would show that indeed the downward trend became evident since the President issued out EO 28," said Duque.

Total firecracker ban

The lower number of firecracker-related injuries, though, failed to satisfy health officials saying they intend to build on the gains of their 2019 campaign en route to achieving zero casualties in the succeeding New Year revelries.

In particular, Duque said they fully intend to push for a total ban on firecrackers by having a law passed by Congress.

"The idea on that scenario is for us to target a zero-injury from fireworks. But, of course, even if the reduction has been quite substantial, it's not enough," the health chief said.

"What is the instrument of achieving that? It's banning it just like other countries that ban the use of fireworks," added Duque.

He said this is because they believe that it is illogical to categorize legal and illegal firecrackers when both can cause harm to the public.

Proof of this, he noted, is the fact that the top 3 causes of firecracker-related injuries for 2019 are legal firecrackers.

"It's a bit oxymoronic to say that it is legal but it is injurious. So those two things are not in congruence. They are conflicting," he said.

Duque said they want to take cue from the bills passed by Senators Bong Revilla and Bato dela Rosa calling for a total ban in firecrackers.

He added that he intends to mention their proposal to President Duterte when they hold their first Cabinet meeting for the year.

Duque, however, admitted that their campaign for a total firecracker and fireworks ban will not be an easy one.

This, he stressed, is why they intend to bring up the matter before different stakeholders.

"We will listen to all other parties and sectors. This is not a one dimensional issue," assured Duque.

To recall, the pyrotechnics industry has previously expressed opposition to the proposed imposition of a total ban on firecrackers and fireworks. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)