Man-made epi­demic

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

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

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