Government to launch information drive vs dengue, reports 70% increase in cases
- Delon Porcalla () - August 27, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino disclosed yesterday that the government has launched a nationwide information drive to alert the public on the rising incidence of dengue cases in the country.

In a news briefing, Mr. Aquino said the campaign would focus on the promotion of cleanliness after the Department of Health (DOH) reported a 70 percent increase in the cases of dengue this year.

DOH records showed that from Jan. 1 to Aug. 14, some 54,659 dengue cases were registered nationwide. This is 74.9 percent higher than the 31,248 cases reported during the same period in 2009.

The DOH had recorded 429 and 327 deaths, respectively, during the same period in 2009 and 2010.

“During our meeting on Monday, Dr. Enrique Ona (DOH Secretary) mentioned there was a 50 percent increase in the incidence of dengue cases. He is now going around pushing an education campaign on the cleanliness drive,” the President said.

Mr. Aquino said the education campaign aims to enhance public awareness of and participation in cleaning their surroundings and eliminate the common breeding grounds of the dengue carrier mosquitoes Aedes aegypti that breed in stagnant water in used tires, empty cans and bottles, and gutters.

“We would rather have prevention rather than the curing aspect of it. There was also a study being done whether or not there is an effect already of the global climate change that has increased the population of this dengue-bearing mosquito,” the President said.

The DOH reported 40,648 cases with a total of 328 deaths from January to July this year alone.

Most of the dengue cases were reported in Metro Manila, Central Mindanao, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) area, Southern Mindanao, and Northern Mindanao.

The DOH had also intensified the dengue fever awareness and prevention program in schools and communities nationwide and health workers have advised the public to be aware of the flu-like symptoms of the disease like prolonged fever and rashes.

Health officials urged all hospitals to set up express lanes for dengue patients, so that health workers could immediately look for symptoms of dengue and provide emergency care.

The country is experiencing an increase of dengue cases brought about by the circulation of four strains of the virus, the recent El Niño phenomenon and the onset of the rainy season a month ago.

Health Secretary Ona said it would be better if the country could develop a vaccine against dengue, but added developing a vaccine takes years.

Bishop Angel Lagdameo, Archdiocese of Iloilo, asked the public to offer special prayers to put an end to the deadly dengue that has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 13 people in Iloilo city.

CBCP News, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), reported that the Archdiocese of Jaro, Iloilo, under Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has released an “Oratio Imperata” in an attempt to put a stop to the spread of the disease.

Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza was alarmed because of the reported deaths caused by dengue and asked the public to pray the Oratio Imperata. He was also reported as saying that the dengue cases have exceeded the “epidemic threshold” and would require urgent response.

The Iloilo City Council through Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog placed the city under a state of calamity just last week, because of the growing dengue problem.

The Archdiocese issued last Aug. 19 a circular stating that the Oratio Imperata and other forms of prayer would be prayed during the daily and Sunday Masses.

The prayer seeks power and protection, divine healing and strength for the victims.

Bishop Alminaza called on the people to continuously pray for the recovery of those afflicted with dengue and to guide medical professionals, such as the doctors and caregivers.

“We pray for the healthy and blessed in life for their generosity in sharing the blessings to those in need,” the prelate said.

It also asks health professionals and government health agencies to act responsibly for the fast recovery of the dengue victims.

Dengue can reportedly be acquired if a person is bitten by an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world.

The symptoms manifest in 3 to 14 days after the infective bite.

Dengue fever could affect infants, young children and adults. Symptoms range from a mild fever to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash.

There are no specific antiviral drugs for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration. Use of acetylsalicylic acid, such as aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, are not recommended.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding) is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses increase survival of patients. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan

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