DOH official wants to make dengue an election issue

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag urged candidates in the local elections to include anti-dengue campaign in their agenda, as he warned that cases of dengue fever in Cebu may rise this year.

Although Cebu implements effective measures against dengue fever, the DOH will still closely monitor the island. “Binabantayan namin kayo this year dahil baka kayo magregister ng pinakamaraming dengue cases (We are keeping close watch over Cebu because you may register the highest number of dengue cases this year),” Tayag told reporters.

Tayag was in Cebu yesterday to attend a workshop on the economic impact of dengue.


According to the DOH, 16,028 cases of dengue fever were recorded in Central Visayas last year, an increase of more than 200 percent from 2011.


Candidates in the local elections should discuss how they can address the problem on dengue fever, the health official said.

“Isama nyo na yan sa kampanya nyo ngayong eleksyon para ang kampanya nyo hindi ilang para manalo sa eleksyon kundi para manalo tayo sa laban natin sa dengue (Candidates should talk about the problem of dengue fever during their campaign, to win not just in the election but in the fight against dengue),” Tayag said.

Local health officials, he said, should activate anti-dengue fever brigades.

Dr. Stella Ygonia of the Cebu City Health Office said they are closely coordinating with barangay officials in implementing measures against dengue.

They go to barangays where there are cases of dengue fever and conduct meetings with the residents. “Our actions in the health office are now integrated with the steps taken by the barangays so we can accomplish more,” she said.

Steps being implemented by the health office and the barangays include destroying breeding grounds. Chemically treated curtains that ward off mosquitoes are also distributed to schools and households.


Research papers were presented by participants during the daylong workshop yesterday.

Among the presenters were Prof. Donald Shepard of the Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Prof. Frances Edillo of the University of San Carlos (USC) and Prof. Maridel Borja of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

USC president Fr. Dionisio Miranda underscored the need to produce accurate data on dengue fever.

“For proper planning for DOH, Philhealth (Philippine Health Corp.) and other agencies we will need more accurate data than the ones we have right now,” Miranda said in an interview with reporters.

The workshop was organized by Shepard and Dr. Yara Halasa, also of Brandeis University; and Edillo, Francisco Largo and Naomi Amoin of USC. It was funded by the Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and co-sponsored by USC.

Speaking with reporters, Tayag said dengue fever costs the country billions of pesos.

The strategy used by the government is to search and destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes, kill adult mosquitoes and provide medical services to patients with dengue fever.

Though statistics provided by DOH showed increasing number of dengue cases in the country, Tayag said they are careful in interpreting the figures because of the problem of “over-reporting.”

Tayag said they have advised doctors to examine their patients more carefully, because of the emergence of Chikungunya virus, which produces symptoms similar to dengue fever.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2013.

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