‘WORST IS STILL TO COME’: DOH chief calls for proactive approach vs dengue

HEALTH Sec. Francisco Duque III visits a dengue patient at West Visayas State University Medical Center in La Paz, Iloilo City, July 25, 2019. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Gerome Dalipe and Emme Rose Santiagudo

LOCAL officials and the community should be more “proactive” in their approach to combat the dengue epidemic.

The “worst is still to come,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned on Thursday.

“I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but we still have six months (before the rainy season ends) and anything can still happen,” Duque told the chief executive and local health officials during a dialogue at District 21 Hotel in Mandurriao district.

Duque stressed the importance of taking proactive measures and interventions against dengue.

“It is really stressful when our approach is reactive, and not proactive. I have seen that your campaigns and programs mirror your proactive measures and interventions,” said Duque.

Duque met with governors from Western Visayas, and city and health officials amid the rising cases of dengue in the region.

In Iloilo Province alone, dengue fever cases numbered to 6,806 (with 23 deaths) an increase of over 998 percent compared to 620 cases with three deaths from January to July 2018, records from the Provincial Health Office showed.

The staggering number of dengue patients has overwhelmed provincial and district hospitals in Iloilo which only have a total bed capacity of 615.

The Iloilo Provincial Government has allotted P26.5 million for the purchase of medicines and other medical supplies after placing the province under a state of calamity due to dengue fever cases.

The Iloilo Provincial Board approved the resolution on Tuesday placing the Province under state of calamity as dengue cases reached 6,806 with 23 deaths since Jan. 1, according to the Provincial Health Office.

Despite the effort to reduce the cases, Duque said that Western Visayas posted the highest number of dengue cases among regions in the country.

Thus, the health secretary said that collective efforts among the city and the community are needed to incorporate to reduce the epidemic.

Likewise, Duque said he was impressed by how local leaders and health officials responded to the dengue outbreak in the region.

“I would like to ensure you that the DOH will be ready to provide financial, logistical, and supplies to augment whatever supplies you already have,” said Duque.



Duque said the dengue outbreak is a test on how well local systems can execute universal health care.

“UHC is always on the context network of service delivery from the barangay health centers to rural health units (RHUs) to city health centers, community, district levels, provincial hospitals linking to your medical center, and all the way to your apex. How well you are doing in the lower delivery of units will be an indicator of a how burdensome for your mid and upstream delivery units,” he said in a press conference at District 21 Hotel in Iloilo City.

Duque added that the challenge is not only to bring down the number of cases but also to ensure that there is clinical best practices and case management of dengue

The management of dengue can spell a lot of difference, kung mali ang management pwedeng mabilis tumaas yung case fatality rate so dapat diyan yung timing, pagbigay ng hydration, dapat talagang in accordance with the best available of evidence on how to manage critical dengue cases,” he said.

He personally visited the dengue patients that were admitted at Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district, West Visayas State University Medical Center in La Paz district, Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital and the RHU both in the town of Cabatuan.

The health secretary fell short of time and failed to visit the RHU and the covered gym in Maasin.

Duque also lauded local health officials on their commitment to implement the Universal Health Care Law through.

“We need to maintain this level of cooperation to reverse the trend of dengue cases,” he said.

Duque also urged private hospitals to adjust to their bed capacity to accommodate patients suspected of dengue.

The Provincial Government and all municipal mayors earlier held a Province-wide clean-up drive last July 6.

The clean-up continued for four consecutive Saturdays in a bid to destroy the breeding places of day-biting mosquitoes.

The Provincial Government received donations of folding beds from the Philippine National Red Cross and the fogging equipment and materials from the Department of Health.

Government doctors also suggest focusing their intervention on towns with a high number of dengue cases.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness.

These carriers are day-biting mosquitoes (Aedes albpictus and Aedes Egyptian) that live and breed in clean and stagnant water.

Doctors also advise people with dengue symptoms to immediately seek medical treatment.

Some of the symptoms are severe headaches, high fever, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes.