Doctors' groups push DOH moves to fight dengue
MANILA, Philippines – Two doctors' groups on Thursday, August 16, emphasized the importance of the 4S strategy in fighting the ongoing national dengue epidemic.
As of July 27, 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 167,607 cases and 720 deaths nationwide.
The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) said in a joint statement that “vector control and early consultation” – strategies recommended by the DOH – are key steps to combat the mosquito-borne disease.
“[Because] dengue has no specific anti-viral treatment, early recognition and prompt access to medical care are essential to lowering the mortality rate from the disease,” the joint statement read.
The DOH has repeatedly told the public to observe the 4S strategy in light of the initial dengue alert and now epidemic. The DOH also launched on August 6 the “Sabayang 4-o’clock Habit para Deng-Get Out,” which will focus on the destruction of mosquito breeding sites.
The 4S strategy is as follows:
- 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
- Say yes to fogging if there is an impending outbreak
According to PIDSP president Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, while they recognize vaccination as important for dengue prevention and control, “it is not currently recommended as part of outbreak response.”
This comes amid calls for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is under the DOH, to lift its ban on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine. Former health secretaries Esperanza Cabral and Janette Garin have both called on the FDA to make Dengvaxia available even just to private practice doctors.
“The vaccine is for future protection for those who were diagnosed or have been known to have dengue or tested positive for dengue antibody,” clarified PPS president Salvacion Gatchalian.
“With the availability of the vaccine, parents and patients will be informed of the benefits and risks, and an informed decision can be made and that its administration be an informed choice,” Gatchalian added.
The dengue vaccine is listed in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List as a recommended vaccine for “some high-risk populations.” However, it cannot be given to everyone.
Manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur itself said in November 2017 that the vaccine could pose risks to people who have not been previously infected by the virus. This means that it can only be administered to people who have had dengue before.
As the number of dengue cases continues to rise, the health department has assured the public that hospitals and local government units are ready to respond to the mosquito-borne disease. – Rappler.com