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Despite 32% drop in cases: DOH: No let up in fight vs dengue

By Connie B. Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippines has shown a nearly one-third decrease in dengue cases this year compared to the previous year but there should be no letup in the country’s efforts to reduce the number of cases, according to Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial. “We need to work together and join in the campaign to eradicate dengue cases in our society,” said Ubial who was here June 15 for the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day. Citing DOH data, she said there was a 31.8-percent decrease in dengue cases this year compared to last year’s, from 211,000 cases in 2016 to 143,902 cases so far in 2017. Ubial said the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to have a 50-percent reduction in dengue cases by 2020. She said the Philippines is among the countries in Asia and the Pacific which have a high prevalence of dengue cases. “We bear nearly 75 percent of the global burden of dengue,” Ubial said. She said with WHO’s help, the country has developed a dengue prevention and control program, a strategic plan covering 2017 to 2022, that will be rolled out to all areas of the country. Ubial said the plan uses the 4S strategy against dengue or what is referred to as --“Search and Destroy,” “Seek Early Consultation,” “Self-Protection” and “Say No to indiscriminate fogging.” The “ASEAN Dengue Day,” which enjoins the active participation of people in the communities for a more effective anti-dengue response, is an annual advocacy campaign that started in 2011 among the ASEAN countries that are committed to the prevention and control of dengue. Undersecretary of Health Dr. Gerardo Bayugo and Dr. Guindo Weiler, WHO representative to the Philippines, officials from the Department of Education in Bicol and local government units in Albay graced the anti-dengue celebration here along with Ubial. There was also a display of booths showcasing the good practices of all the provinces in the region with regards to dengue prevention and control while the winning entries in the dengue short film contest were also presented and adjudged. But the highlight of last Wednesday’s activities was the blessing of the “Public Health Laboratory and Regional Insectary” within the compound of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) located in this city. During a forum at the DOH-Bicol office held earlier as a prelude to last week’s celebration, DOH-Bicol Director Napoleon Arevalo said the “insectary” is a facility that seeks to study mosquitoes and other insects that have “medical importance.” “It will study insects like mosquitoes that bring about such diseases as dengue, malaria and chikungunya,” he said. He added the goal of DOH is for the laboratory facility to serve as a diagnostic center for these diseases in the same manner as how the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine or RITM is operating for certain types of illnesses. “Bicol is one of the pilot areas for such a diagnostic center,” said Dr. Arevalo. In the same forum, Ma. Cecilia Pan, coordinator of the dengue prevention and control program in Bicol, noted a 25 decrease in dengue cases from January 1 to June 3 this year compared to the same period last year. “There were 738 cases recorded in 2016 compared to 555 cases in 2017,” she said. Pan added that among the six Bicol provinces, Camarines Norte showed the biggest decrease at 57 percent, followed by Albay at 42 percent and Catanduanes at 41 percent. Arevalo said he would like to believe the decrease could be attributed to the effective partnership of DOH-Bicol with the Department of Science and Technology-Bicol and the local government units in developing and adopting a technology that measures the “density” of dengue cases in various communities in the region.

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