Sept. 20, 2010, 10:56 a.m.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DoH) warned on Saturday that dengue deaths, now standing at 501 since last January, may reach 800 if vulnerable communities fail to respond to the situation properly.
Latest figures from the DoH’s National Epidemiology Center (NEC) showed that dengue cases reached 69,594 from January to August 28 this year. This figure is nearly double the 34,997 dengue cases recorded in the same period in 2009.
Dr. Eric Tayag, NEC director, warned that dengue deaths will potentially surge to 800 if affected communities fail to observe and sustain a high sense of environmental responsibility.
Malacañang said on Saturday that it is studying the possible declaration of a state of calamity over the alarming rise of dengue cases in the country.
But Tayag said the DoH is not yet inclined to make such a recommendation at this time.
Nevertheless, he raised the possibility that dengue fatalities may reach 800 if more severe dengue cases are not given immediate and proper treatment.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said over Radyo ng Bayan that the Palace will continue discussions with DoH officials on whether or not to declare a state of calamity.
“Definitely, we will take the advice of the Secretary of Health (Enrique Ona),” Lacierda said. “They’re (DoH officials) in the best position to do so (address the dengue situation).”
At this point, he said it is important to keep a high level of public awareness of the threats of dengue in order to avoid more cases.
Among the crucial areas being monitored by the DoH are Southern Luzon, Metro Manila, and Western Visayas.
The August 28 NEC report disclosed that the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), and Eastern Visayas were among the regions with the highest increase in dengue cases.
Tayag said it is difficult to fight dengue if the communities themselves do not make collective effort to clean their environment.
“It is not only a few households that should do their part, but the whole neighborhood. It doesn’t work if only few households observe cleanliness in their respective areas. Your mosquitoes could affect the entire neighborhood,” he told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
“People should make cleaning their daily habit,” he said.
In a separate phone interview, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, appealed to communities to collectively act against dengue, saying that the DoH is exhausting all means to stop the increasing number of dengue cases.
“We encourage the community to do their share of responsibility for cleaning their own environment. What we need is community action,” he said. “We don’t want to anticipate an increase in dengue deaths.”
Tayag said the DoH reintroduced the “181 formula” — one liter of water, plus 8 teaspoons of sugar, plus 1 teaspoon of salt as an alternative to the oral rehydration solution (oresol) to combat dehydration, which is among the signs of dengue in its early stage. The patient has to drink the solution every one or two hours.
“If oresol is not available at health centers, people could prepare this solution at home. They don’t realize that they could have the treatment at home,” he said.
Health centers are giving out oresol for free, while drugstores and hospitals are selling it at reasonable prices.
Suy said the “181 formula” is “old” but is being promoted by the DoH to treat mild cases of dengue.
“Instead of going to the hospital, parents could prepare this solution at home. We reminded the public that we have this old formula, because they might have forgotten it,” Tayag said. He said the DoH has directed all health centers to campaign for the “181 formula” in their respective communities.
Among the dengue symptoms that are similar to colds, bronchitis, and the regular flu are mild to high-grade fever with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain and rashes.
The NEC report said Regions 2 and the National Capital Region(Metro Manila) have registered a 46.9 percent and 10.9 percent decrease in dengue cases, respectively, while cases in Metro Manila have increased by 16 percent.
It also disclosed that 78 percent of those who were afflicted with dengue were between one and 20 years old.