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Philippines declares dengue outbreak a national epidemic

10 August 2019

The country's Ministry of health said that from January to 20 July Dengue (acute infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes) became ill more than 146 thousand people, which is 98% higher than in 2018.

A former Health chief said the government response on the national dengue epidemic has been lacking even as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III acknowledged there is still no cure for the dreaded mosquito-borne viral illness.

"It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these area to identify where a localized response is needed, and to enable the local government units to use their Quick Response Fund to address the epidemic situation".

Based on the DOH Dengue Surveillance Report, Region VI (Western Visayas) had the most number of cases at 23,330, followed by Region IV-A (CALABARZON) with 16,515, Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) with 12,317, Region X (Northern Mindanao) with 11,455, and Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) with 11,083 cases. "This is really staggering".

In 2017, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte banned the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, after its French producer reported that it might trigger extreme effects on sufferers not previously exposed to the virus.

Francisco Duque III, the health secretary, said that 106,630 dengue cases had been reported between January and the end of June - an 85 per cent increase on the 57,564 cases reported from the same period a year ago.

Gordon pointed out that new vaccines have to undergo some processes, including checks and balances in the government, before they could be introduced for private and public use, and Dengvaxia has to first go through all these.

Dengvaxia is now the only dengue vaccination available on the market, but the World Health Organization recommends that it should only be given to those in high risk areas who have already been exposed to the virus.

This photo taken on March 5, 2018 shows patients arriving at the East Avenue Medical Center in Manila.

The City Health Office of Marawi and the province of Lanao del Sur are also coordinating with CARE and other worldwide organizations for the provision of fogging machines that would help kill breeding dengue-infected mosquitoes.

These spikes aren't isolated to just the Philippines. So many people are dead.

The controversy also triggered a vaccine scare that the government said was a factor behind measles outbreaks that the UN Children's Fund said have killed more than 200 people this year. Most cases of severe infection are detected in children.

CARE will be providing "dengue prevention kits" composed of insect repellent lotion and mosquito nets to be distributed in evacuation camps.

Philippines declares dengue outbreak a national epidemic