SO HERE is government scampering on many fronts to arrest the dengue epidemic—now at a staggering figure of 146,061 cases from January to July. A few more and this will be twice the number of cases last year.
There are now 622 deaths recorded.
The Department of Health had asked the National Risk Reduction and Management Council Chair Sec. Delfin Lorenzana to call for a council meeting to declare a national dengue epidemic.
Around 23,330 cases of dengue swept across Western Visayas. Calabarzon has 16,515 cases, followed by Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN. Seven out of the 17 regions, the DOH said, have exceeded the epidemic threshold.
“Kaya sabay-sabay tayong mag-search and destroy tuwing 4 0’clock para deng-get-out!” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III urged the public. Sadly, the secretary’s sloganeering can hardly make any dent against the vector onslaught.
The epidemic comes at a time when the DOH is beset with suspicious eyes. Duque is being accused of conflict of interest with his family firms allegedly earning from DOH contracts. The Commission on Audit finds that around P18 billion worth of drugs and medicines are still stocked inside DOH warehouses, a bulk of the stocks are nearing their expiry dates. Around P30 million worth of drugs and medicines, now languishing in health centers, have already expired.
Think that this dengue spike transpires in the hot first half of the year, and the rainy season has just started. That means two things: One, that although there was a weak link (reservoir) in the chain of infection, the epidemic simply hit an unprotected populace, and thanks to shameless Philippine politicians that killed a crucial vaccination program; they now have blood in their hands. Two, the figures could soar in the damp season if government programs can’t out-fly the canny mosquito.
The medical community had urged the DOH to lift the ban on Dengvaxia, the poor bone that was publicly cannibalized by politics.
Malacañang is now contemplating on introducing Dengvaxia again under the DOH’S vaccination program.
What should be terrifying? The World Health Organization had approved the Dengvaxia. All countries that have used the vaccine vouch for its safety. And then there’s the loser Persida Acosta, Public Attorney’s Office chief, whose legal efforts hit a blank wall; the reported deaths had nothing to do with the vaccine at all, period.
This dengue epidemic is man-made. Former Health Secretary and now Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin is right. The outbreak could have been prevented. She now wants to introduce a law that will sanction media who give nonexperts a platform to speak like authorities on medical issues. We concur./sscebu