The Department of Health declared a national dengue alert Monday due to the rapidly rising number of cases in several regions of the country.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said among the regions that have exceeded the epidemic threshold are MIMAROPA (Region IV-B), Western Visayas (Region VI), Central Visayas (Region VII), and Northern Mindanao (Region X).
A DOH regional office must identify a clustering of cases before declaring a localized epidemic at the barangay level, Duque said.
Other regions—Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Cordillera Administrative Region—are being watched closely after exceeding the alert threshold.
From Jan. 1 to June 29 this year, most cases are from Western Visayas (13,164), CALABARZON (11,474), Central Visayas (9,199), SOCCSKSARGEN (9,107), and Northern Mindanao (8,739).
Nationwide, the number of cases has reached 106,630, 85 percent higher than the 57,567 cases in the same period last year.
Duque said dengue cases have been observed to peak every three to four years, and that early detection and proper case management can prevent deaths.
The last peak occurred in 2016 and the DOH expects an increase in cases this year.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that with the number of dengue cases rising rapidly, screened windows and doors must be included in the specifications for public classrooms.
“During school days, one in four Filipinos are in public schools,” said Recto, referring to 27 million students taught by 830,000 teachers in about 47,000 schools this year.
“If Filipinos congregate there, then we should make sure that mosquitos don’t go to school with them,” he said.
Schoolchildren, he said, form the largest group of dengue victims, he said.
READ: Employ 4S strategy to fight dengue—DOH chief
Recto said screening off ventilation points in classrooms is not a new idea. “In 2015, there was already a plan by the DOH to install screens in 20,000 classrooms, to add to 7,620 classrooms which were already installed with chemically-treated screens by then.”
Duque earlier said the most effective way to prevent dengue is still the 4S strategy—Search and destroy mosquito breeding places, Self-protective measures like wearing long sleeves and use of insect repellent, Seek early consultation on the first signs and symptoms of the disease, and Say yes to fogging if there is an impending outbreak.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. assured the public that confinement due to dengue would be covered by the state-owned agency.
“PhilHealth correspondingly insures its eligible patients with dengue (with or without warning) and severe dengue at P10,000 and P16,000,” said PhilHealth president and chief executive Ricardo C. Morales. “These benefits are available at Level 1, 2, and 3 hospitals. In addition, non-severe dengue could be treated in primary care facilities with a package of P7,000.”
The state health insurer said even non-PhilHealth members can also avail themselves of benefits when needing confinement due to dengue complications.
READ: PhilHealth pays for dengue confinements
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