The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday has declared a national dengue epidemic due to the shocking rate of dengue cases per week that took the lives of more than 600 people since the year started.
On July 15, it was reported that Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III announced a national dengue alert because of the rapid increase of dengue cases in several regions prior to his declaration of national dengue epidemic.
From January to July 20, 2019, 146,062 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been recorded, wherein 622 of those lead to death.
According to DOH, this is 98% higher than the reported cases in the same period in 2018.
Data from the health department showed that Western Visayas had the most number of cases with 23,330. CALABARZON followed with 16,515 cases, then Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317 cases, Northern Mindanao with 11,455 cases and SOCCSKSARGEN with 11,083 cases.
In the meantime, cases in Ilocos region, Central Visayas, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have surpassed the alert threshold level.
Duque said it is important that a national dengue epidemic be declared in order to recognize where localized response is needed and to allow the local government units to employ quick response to address the situation.
Furthermore, DOH launched the “Sabayang 4 o’clock Habit para Deng-get Out”, which aims to search and destroy breeding sites of mosquito, as it is one of the acts in the prevention and control of dengue.
DOH’s decision on Dengvaxia
On a different note, Duque said the DOH will resolve within the next two weeks whether it will reintroduce Dengvaxia, the first vaccine legalized to protect against dengue virus that became a controversial issue in the country.
“The status of Dengvaxia as a vaccine has been permanently revoked. We are in possession of appeal from Sanofi Pasteur and we have to go over the documents. It’s quite voluminous. It will take a little bit more time to go over this,” Duque said.
The Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte would listen to the health department’s recommendation on calls to bring back Dengvaxia vaccine program to address the outbreak.
However, the health secretary said the vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, a pharmaceutical firm in French, is not cost-effective and not advisable for outbreak response.
“This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group, which is the five to nine years of age,” he said.
At the latter part of 2017, the government suspended the mass immunization program after Sanofi discovered that it may worsen the disease if the recipient has no prior exposure to the virus.
Then, in February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nullified the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia, citing the manufacturer’s failure to comply with the post-approval commitment document.