Health authorities have conducted an initial inspection of private and government-run medical facilities to check on the readiness of hospitals and staff to attend to fireworks-related injuries.

The Department of Health dispatched personnel to the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center and the Rizal Medical Center on December 18. Another three hospitals will be part of another round of inspection on December 31, New Year's Eve.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III underscored the importance of preparedness in hospitals to attend to expected victims of fireworks-related injuries. At the same time, he urged the public to heed the ban on dangerous fireworks and instead join the community fireworks display to avoid injuries and even loss of life.

The DOH, with several partner government agencies, announced it was aiming for zero cases of firecracker-related injuries especially during the New Year celebrations to greet 2018.

In 2016, the health agency recorded a total of 630 fireworks-related injuries with no casualties; the figure is 32 percent lower compared to that of 2015. Nevertheless, the number of injuries was still significant.

In a statement released by the Health department noted that of 181 cases reported, 29 percent of the injured belonged to the 10 to 14 years old, and these were mostly caused by piccolo (31 percent) and kwitis with 14 percent.

DOH will be spearheading Oplan: Iwas Paputok, Firworks Display and Patok: Makiisa sa Community Fireworks sa Inyong Lugar.

The programme aims to implement the provisions outlined in Executive Order No 28, or "Providing for the Regulation and Control of the Use of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on limiting the use of fireworks in communities.

"Let us be responsible citizens and do our part in this campaign to prevent injuries, especially among children. We urge all parents to be watchful to ensure that their children do not use exploding firecrackers including, but not limited to 'piccolo' and 'kwitis' or sparklers.

Apart from DOH, the Department of Education, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, City of Manila and EcoWaste Coalition are involved in the firecracker programme. MIMS