By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
Despite the scare over the government’s immunization program following the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia controversy, dengue cases in the Philippines dropped to 41.38 percent during the first six weeks of this year.
The Department of Health (DoH) Dengue Disease Surveillance Report showed a total of 10,980 new dengue cases, which included 51 deaths.
It indicated that the number of dengue cases was 41.38 percent lower than the 18,731 cases reported within the same period last year. It also showed that 23 percent of those afflicted with dengue were 10-14 years old.
Furthermore, the report showed majority of the dengue cases were recorded in areas where the mass dengue vaccination program was implemented.
The Calabarzon area covering the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces listed, 2,503 dengue cases.
It was followed by Central Luzon with 1,964 cases and the National Capital Region with 1,820 cases.
Except for the Ilocos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Calabarzon, all other regions in the country were found to have a decreasing number of dengue cases.
The Ilocos Region reported a 121 percent increase in the number of dengue cases. There was a 55 percent increase and 25 percent increase in the CAR and Calabarzon, respectively.
As this developed, Health Sec. Francisco Duque has been going around government hospitals as part of the DoH’s monitoring of the health of over 800,000 children who received the controversial anti-dengue vaccine.
Duque suspended the implementation of the mass vaccination after giant French drug firm Sanofi Pasteur divulged that their test results indicated that Dengvaxia should only be administered to those who had already been afflicted with dengue. And that those who never had dengue could fall ill and even die if they were vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
Duque assured they would continue to strengthen their Dengue Prevention and Control Program and collaborate with other agencies of government such as the Department of Education, and Local Government Units to safeguard the welfare of the vaccinated children.
He said they also partnered with the Philippine Red Cross to provide immediate transport and referral of dengue patients to health facilities and ensure the adequacy of blood supply.
“We reiterate that the cost of hospitalization will be shouldered by PhilHealth through its existing case rates, and DoH through its Medical Assistance Program,” he said.
He noted that dengue prevention kits would also be distributed to all students and other vaccinated children to enable them to adopt self-protection measures and prevent them from contracting the disease.
He said the DoH hotlines were open 24/7 in both the Central Office and Regional Offices to promptly respond to immediate concerns and needs of the parents.
Furthermore, he called on teachers and parents to continue to work with the department with the goal of safeguarding the health of children and to prevent them from contracting dengue or other illnesses. “Together, let us continue to monitor them,” said Duque.
He added: “To the parents, we hope you consider the DoH as your partner in looking after the welfare of your children. There is no full protection against dengue, that is why we encourage everyone to implement the 4S Kontra Dengue strategy,” said Duque.
“To the medical and scientific community and other concerned citizens, we ask for your help in clarifying misconceptions and providing only evidence-based information on dengue,” he added.
Every year, there are about 200,00 dengue cases registered with the Department of Health.
Although the case fatality rate remains below one percent, “we acknowledge the fear brought by this disease. Let us work together as one nation to ensure the health and safety of our children against dengue and other illnesses, whether vaccinated with Dengvaxia or not,” said Duque.