DOH warns of rise in dengue cases

 MANILA, Philippines — All regional directors of the Department of Health (DOH) have been alerted against a possible increase in dengue cases, amid reports of a surge in cases in Western Visayas.

“We cannot be complacent when it comes to dengue because it could be fatal if patients are not given appropriate and timely management,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a phone interview.

DOH data showed that 1,034 dengue cases with 18 deaths were recorded in Western Visayas from Jan. 1 to May 7.

The figure is 36 percent higher compared to the same period last year.

Only the cities of Capiz and Iloilo recorded lower cases than last year at -15 percent and -67 percent, respectively.

The areas that have posted higher cases this year are Aklan, 29 percent; Antique, 10 percent; Guimaras, 40 percent; Iloilo province, 39 percent; Negros Occidental, 140 percent, and Bacolod City, 55 percent.

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The Negros Occidental provincial health office recorded 389 cases with four deaths since January compared to only 172 cases during the same period last year.

San Carlos City logged the highest number of cases at 36 while Binalbagan town posted the highest number of patients at 1,300 percent.

Duque said the DOH is monitoring the cases in Western Visayas in coordination with concerned local government units (LGUs).

“They have to make sure that population-based intervention or the 4S strategies are being implemented in the region to stop the spread of dengue,” he said.

The 4S strategy means seek early consultation, search and destroy possible breeding sites of mosquitoes, self-protect  by wearing light-colored long pants and long sleeves, and say yes to fogging or spraying if there is a rise in cases in an area.

Despite an increase in cases, Duque said health care facilities in the region are not overwhelmed with patients.

“The health facilities there are not yet full. But if ever, they are prepared because we have this ‘accordion policy’ wherein rural health units and city health offices, among others, can be opened if needed,” he said.

Last month, the DOH reported an increase in dengue cases in Zamboanga City as well as in some provinces in Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas and Davao.

In August 2019, the DOH declared a national dengue epidemic after the number of cases from January to July reached around 150,000 with 622 deaths.

As this developed, environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition called on LGUs to strictly enforce the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“The application of ecological solid waste management as espoused in Republic Act (RA) 9003 in every household and community will deprive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the primary vector of the dengue virus, of places to lay their eggs,” EcoWaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero said.

Aside from controlling dengue and other health benefits, Lucero said strict enforcement of RA 9003 would “cut the volume and toxicity of garbage, reduce hauling costs, curb environmental contamination, address climate pollution, prevent flooding and marine litter, conserve resources and generate recycling-based jobs and livelihoods for local communities.” – Gilbert Bayoran, Elizabeth Marcelo                                                                                                       

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