CEBU, Philippines — Despite the declaration of a national dengue epidemic, the Cebu provincial government said the number of cases here has not reached epidemic levels.
The Department of Health has declared a national dengue epidemic after a recorded 622 deaths nationwide barely three weeks after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared a national dengue alert.
The good news, at least in the province, is that the number of new cases has reportedly decreased – from 1,153 cases in January to 479 cases in July.
Overall, a total of 3,592 cases were reported in Cebu from the start of 2019 until August, almost twice the 1,928 cases reported in the same time frame in 2018.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the Provincial Health Office is working closely with DOH-7 and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in monitoring the cases.
“The feedback from Director Bernadas is here in Cebu, there is not an outbreak even,” Garcia said.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas in the director of DOH-7.
“Medyo nag-plateau ang incidence nato, wala kaayo musaka, unya karon lately, karon nga week, ninaog siya,” Bernadas said in a separate interview.
After the first few months of the year where dengue was at its peak, the number of cases went down to 189 new cases in June but went up again in subsequent months.
Seventeen deaths were recorded in Cebu from the start of this year until the end.
“So, dire sa atoa, dili pa necessary nga mu-declare ta as epidemic… karon, sa July lang, 479… that is below the threshold,” said Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Christina Giango.
Despite this, the province urged local government units to remain vigilant.
“Dili pasabot ana magkumpyansa ta (This doesn’t mean that we let our guard down). We have to do some health education, which our rural health units are doing,” Giango said.
The PHO oversees health education programs and clean-up drives to eliminate breeding sites of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
Giango said entomology studies are being conducted in key areas of the province. Once the existence of the dengue-carrying mosquitos aedes aegypti is confirmed, PHO personnel conduct misting there.
Giango also said that district and provincial hospitals accommodate patients despite the cutback on hospital staff.
As a region, Central Visayas has exceeded the alert threshold level with 10,728 dengue cases together Region 1 (Ilocos) with 4,396 cases and BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) with 2,301 cases.
From January 1 to August 3, 2019, at least 11,085 cases and 74 deaths were reported from different disease reporting units (DRUs) in the region. These numbers are 118 percent higher compared to the numbers in the same period last year.
Most of those affected were from six to 10 years old, both male and female.
Majority of the cases are from Cebu City with 13.5 percent followed by Lapu-Lapu City with six percent, Mandaue City with 4.1 percent, Dumaguete City with 2.7 percent, and Danao City with 2.6 percent.
Bernadas said there is a need to intensify clean-up drives as the “search and destroy” method is still one of the best interventions to stop the mosquitoes even before they can attack.
“Kung walay lamok, walay dengue… sa ato pa, maglikay ta sa lamok… kung makalikay ta sa lamok, wala tay dengue (There is no dengue if there are no mosquitoes. If we can get rid of mosquitoes, we can get rid of dengue),” Bernadas said.
Bernadas said clean-up drives should be a collective effort – at home, at workplaces, and schools.
DOH-7 has put up insecticide-treated nets in some schools in Cebu for free in the hopes of killing dengue-carrying mosquitoes. – Jed Harvey M. Ondiano, JMO (FREEMAN)