Monday, 19 August, 2019

Philippines declares national epidemic after 622 dengue deaths

Patients suffering from dengue fever rest inside a government run hospital in the town of Cabatuan Patients suffering from dengue fever rest inside a government run hospital in the town
Anna Jefferson | 09 August, 2019, 08:41

The Department of Health (DOH) today requested the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Chair Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana to convene a full council meeting and declared a national dengue epidemic in the wake of the 146,062 cases recorded since January up to July 20 this year, 98% higher than the same period in 2018.

Dengue incidence shot up 98 percent from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference in which he announced a "national dengue epidemic". The outbreak has lead to 622 deaths, officials said.

About 400 million people around the globe are infected by dengue every year, making it the most widespread mosquito-borne disease. Early symptoms of dengue include long-running fever, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, skin rashes, and bleeding. While there is no specific treatment for the illness, medical care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as critical.

Duque said a campaign is being launched focusing on the destruction of mosquito breeding sites. Other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices and communities will join in the effort, it said. The Philippines revoked Dengvaxia's certification after reports of deaths linked to the vaccine.

Duque said Thursday the government is studying an appeal to allow French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi to put the vaccine back in the Philippine market, but ruled out using the drug to combat the ongoing epidemic, which has hit small children hard.

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He said Dengvaxia was not cost-effective at P1,000 per dose and was not aimed at the most vulnerable age group (5-9 years old).

"This is really staggering", said Francisco Duque, the health secretary.

The national epidemic declaration comes after seven of the country's 17 regions exceeded the epidemic threshold for dengue fever for the past three consecutive weeks while several others also exceeded the epidemic limit for the first time.

In Cagayan de Oro City, Dr. Adriano Suba-an, acting health director for Northern Mindanao, said 15,995 dengue cases had been monitored in the region from January to August 3, an increase of 62 percent from the same period previous year.

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