Northern Mindanao

Nearly P25M spent on anti-dengue nets, but few used in Northern Mindanao schools

Uriel Quilinguing

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Nearly P25M spent on anti-dengue nets, but few used in Northern Mindanao schools
The health department sees a 35% increase in dengue cases in Northern Mindanao, with 8,486 cases and 38 deaths, mostly among children

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) spent nearly P25 million on insecticide-treated screens (ITS) in Northern Mindanao’s public schools to combat dengue, yet only a fraction of the 1,766 rolls bought have been used so far, indicating slow progress in anti-dengue efforts.

Only 15% of the ITS rolls allotted for Northern Mindanao this year have been installed in public schools, despite the rising number of dengue cases in the region, according to Dr. Wellaflor Kindom Brito, head of the DOH regional office’s infectious diseases cluster, on Friday, July 5.

The DOH reported a 35% increase in dengue cases from January to June this year in Northern Mindanao, with 8,486 cases and 38 deaths, mostly among children aged five to 10.

Children will be at risk of dengue infections when classes for the 2024-2025 school year begin on July 29, unless classrooms are kept free from Aedes mosquitoes. The annual school clean-up activities, Brigada Eskwela, are scheduled for July 22 to 27.

Also known as Olyset nets, ITS contain 2% permethrin, a chemical that kills mosquitoes and other insects. Every year, except during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health department has provided ITS rolls for public schools to install.

This year, only 256 rolls of ITS have been installed in schools in Northern Mindanao out of a total regional allocation of 1,766, according to the DOH-10 list of insecticid-treated screen installations in schools.

The DOH-10 spent P24.724 million on ITS from a P90-million budget for vector control commodities. Each locally procured roll of ITS, measuring 1.5 meters by 25 meters, costs P14,000.

Brito said the installation of Olyset nets depends on the approval of DepEd officials and school staff. She assured that ITS allocations for local governments are available.

The DOH-10 list shows that only four school divisions in the region have fully availed of their ITS allotments: El Salvador (25 rolls), Lanao del Norte (18 rolls), Ozamiz (5 rolls), and Valencia (33 rolls).

Other divisions have received significantly fewer rolls than allocated: Bukidnon (3 of 310), Camiguin (5 of 50), Misamis Oriental (92 of 300), Misamis Occidental (6 of 450), Cagayan de Oro (17 of 100), Iligan (8 of 200), Malaybalay (23 of 200), Tangub (5 of 50), and Oroquieta (16 of 100). There are also 26 unallocated rolls of ITS, each valued at P14,000.

Roy Angelo Gazo, Cagayan de Oro schools division superintendent, said, “There is no school with operational Olyset nets; these are expensive to maintain,” referring to ITS installed over five years ago.

At the West City Central School (WCCS) in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, only 10 of the 64 classrooms, occupied by kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, and 3 pupils, have ITS installed more than five years ago. WCCS was one of 12 schools where Olyset net installation was piloted in 2010.

ITS have a three-year shelf life, but their effectiveness can last for five years if properly washed with mild soap and air-dried four times a year, Brito said.

She said the DOH’s anti-dengue campaign relies on the 4S strategy: search and destroy, self-protection, seek early consultation and treatment, and support fogging when necessary. Infected individuals should stay hydrated.

Brito said they distribute dengue vector control commodities annually, including insecticides and fogging machines to local health offices.

“It all boils down to environmental sanitation. All these will be useless if we don’t clean our environment,” she said, pointing out that outside classrooms with ITS, children are no longer protected from mosquitoes. –

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