Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte on Thursday called for a heightened community-based public awareness campaign about monkeypox following the confirmation by the Department of Health (DOH) of the country’s first case of the viral infection.
Duterte said the DOH should team up with the local government units (LGUs) and civic organizations to educate the public about monkeypox and its symptoms, and how it can be detected, transmitted, prevented, and treated to help stop the local transmission of the disease.
The information drive about monkeypox should cascade down to the community level by including barangay officials and workers in this campaign, Duterte said.
“Educating our countrymen at this stage will help the DOH in its public surveillance and prevention efforts. It will also clear up misconceptions about monkeypox that could lead people to become lax in following health protocols,” Duterte said.
Duterte said such misconceptions include reports that monkeypox is only sexually transmitted when the fact is that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that the virus can be passed on through close contact with infected individuals, and also through droplets or touching contaminated beddings or towels.
Last week, the DOH reported that it has detected the Philippines’ first imported case of the monkeypox virus in a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from overseas and had traveled to countries with documented cases of the disease. The health department has identified 10 close contacts of the infected person. They have been isolated and are closely being monitored.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the growing monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern after more than 18,000 cases of the disease have been reported across more than 70 countries so far this year. Europe is currently the global epicenter of the outbreak.
Duterte said that increased vigilance by the public, which can only be done if they have the right information about the disease, will help prevent the spread of monkeypox.
“Educating the public will also help eliminate the stigma that might be associated with monkeypox and encourage people with possible infections to come forward instead of remaining undetected. This will also prevent panic if the virus is detected elsewhere within our borders,” Duterte said.
Duterte said an effective community-based information campaign will complement the ongoing WHO-recommended surveillance, screening, management, and infection control efforts of the DOH and other government agencies.
Symptoms of monkeypox, a viral infection that causes skin lesions, include fever, intense headache, swelling of lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, lack of energy, and rashes. The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days, according to WHO.