Duque said the best way to combat the dengue epidemic was for communities to clean-up their surroundings and eliminate all mosquito breeding sites, but Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez said the government must adopt a comprehensive response plan following the continued surge of dengue cases.
“The Department of Health’s seeming band-aid solution to the problem is to distribute dengue kits that may contain mosquito repellent or net, soaps, a thermometer, antipyretic tablets and other items that may alleviate the symptoms of dengue,” Deputy Minority Leader Janette Garin, a former DOH chief, said.
Garin said the department should “stop using the DOH funds and the people’s money for buying the useless dengue kit.”
For his part, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is open to using the Dengvaxia vaccine that the government had banned in December 2017 over revelations that its use could lead to severe infections among those who had not been infected before.
“I’d rather go to the side of science if it would mean saving people’s lives,” he said.
“Many people have died. It’s an epidemic. I want to hear the words of the experts, doctors. I will be guided by their announcements,” the President added.
Garin, who is still facing a slew of criminal and civil cases in connection with the use of the vaccine during her watch as the Health secretary during the Benigno Aquino III administration, said she hoped the DOH would listen to “real experts” and not be swayed by “fake news peddlers.”
Romualdez said what is needed now is “an emergency response that involves integrated action from the national level down to barangay level.”
Romualdez said she has been in close communication with DOH officials in Region VIII to map out plans on how to prevent the dengue outbreak in the region from turning a full-blown epidemic.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the fight against dengue is not for DOH alone to wage but for the whole country.
“One agency cannot win the war. It must be joined by the people,” Recto said, adding there is no magic pill against the virus. “There is, however, a cocktail of solutions, the formulation of which DOH takes a leading part.”
Health officials earlier warned the dengue epidemic will peak in October with an estimated 10,000 cases a week.
DOH records showed Western Visayas has the highest number of dengue cases with 23,330; followed by Calabarzon with 16,515 cases; Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317 cases; Northern Mindanao with 11,455 cases; and Soccskscargen with 11,083 cases.
With the declaration of a national epidemic on Tuesday, the DOH can mobilize funds from the P177-million dengue program budget and the P40 million allotted for the most affected regions. If these are not enough funds, then the Quick Response Fund can be used.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said six provinces, 11 municipalities, and one barangay in Palawan have declared states of calamity as early as June 25 to address the outbreak.
READ: Dengue peak: 10k cases weeklyREAD: Employ 4S strategy to fight dengue—DOH chiefREAD: DOH: Dengue epidemic of staggering proportions
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