Department of Health (DOH) – MIMAROPA (Oriental/Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) together with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. (PSFI), Project H4 and the city government of Puerto Princesa launched a health and safety program for public transport drivers dubbed as “ToDOH Na To! which provided health screening for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), tuberculosis and leprosy as part of the region’s integrated infectious disease systematic screening on vulnerable population program at the Mendoza Park Covered Court on October 27, 2016.
Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated that the health assessment among drivers is important because they are constantly exposed to hazardous elements such as pollutions which can caused health concerns such as tuberculosis and skin concerns if not properly addressed.
“It is a safety concern that we must consider as we are all about safety.” he added.
Janairo explained that drivers are also at risk of contracting HIV due to their mobility, occupation, or partners. Because of their vulnerability, they can increase the spread of HIV, including populations such as sexual partners of injecting drug users, clients of sex workers, regular sex partners of sex workers, female sex partners of men who have sex with men and women.
According to the DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there were 283 HIV cases from 1984 to present. Ages of cases range from 5-58 years old. Majority were males (92%) and majority (89%) were asymptomatic. Homosexual (41%) practices were highest mode of transmission followed by bisexual practices (40%). Thirty-eight were OFWs.
From January 1 – August 31, 2016, Palawan registered 18 HIV positive cases followed by Oriental Mindoro with 11; Marinduque with 3, Occidental Mindoro with 1 and Romblon with 1 HIV case. A total of 13,961 cases tested for HIV/AIDS & STIs diseases at different accredited testing laboratories in the region.
The one-day activity included blood screening, sputum examination, x-ray and skin testing. Seminar on road safety, prostate cancer, HIV and TB were also provided to motorists. Free haircuts and good grooming information was also given. There were 250 transport drivers who attended the event. A health and hygiene kit was given by DOH-MIMAROPA and Php200.00 cash voucher was presented by Pilipinas Shell Foundation as incentives for drivers who completed the seminar and screening.
The systematic health screening was also conducted in jails/prisons of MIMAROPA with 96 bacteriologically confirmed cases at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm Colony in 2016; 8 TB cases confirmed at the Puerto Princesa City Jail; 74 inmates confirmed at the Palawan Provincial Jail; and 200 inmates were screened at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro.
The activity is part of the Duterte Health Agenda known as “All for Health Towards Health for All” wherein all Filipino families are entitled to a comprehensive range of health services that will protect everyone regardless of age.
Pic 1 A tricycle driver grimaces while his blood is being taken by a medical technologist during the launching of “ToDOH Na To!, a health assessment activity for transport drivers of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Pic 2 A city traffic officer of Puerto Princesa City conducts a road safety seminar for transport drivers in Puerto Princesa City during the launching of “ToDOH Na To!, a health assessment activity for transport drivers in Palawan.
Pic 3 (Below) A long line of Puerto Princesa transport drivers in queu in front of the Detect TB Bus for the free x-ray and TB assesment during the launching of “ToDOH Na To!, a health assessment activity for transport drivers held at the Mendoza Park in PPC Palawan.
Pic 4 A physician positions a driver in front of an x-ray machine for chest x-ray. (Glen Ramos/PR/DOH)