The dengue resurgence: a lesson not learned
posted 29-Jul-2019  ·  
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Two years ago, precisely on July 18, 2017, the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac enacted Municipal Ordinance No. 2017-09 on the prevention, control and abatement of the mosquito vector and providing fines and penalties thereof.

Proposed by then Councilor and now SB Secretary Susan Isidoro, the “Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue (ABKD)” ordinance mandates all owners, managers. Administrators, household owners and/or caretakers of households, schools, institutions, abandoned houses, junkshops, tire trading/merchandiser business, and all other buildings/establishments within the capital town to get rid of vectors’ breeding ground particularly stagnant water, to avoid mosquito larvae (kiti-kiti).

“Otherwise, they are presumed to have violated the ordinance,” the measure states.

It specifically called on everyone to comply with the following minimum requirements: buildings/structures under construction must not accumulate stagnant water and solid waste; water drums, pails, similar containers must be covered at all times; old or discarded tires should be punctured or cut; unused tin cans, jars, bottles, pots and the like should be properly collected, stored or disposed; gutters of roofs must be maintained free from accumulation of rain water; abandoned swimming pools must be treated with larvaecides or other means of controlling the vectors; uninhabited structures/buildings must be free from all kinds of waste; and, all plant vases and pots, open bamboo poles, free holes, leaf plant axis, other natural or artificial containers that may accumulate water should always be checked as the potential breeding place of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.

The Municipal Health Office, in cooperation with the Liga nga mga Barangay, is supposed to reactivate the Barangay Dengue Brigade and the School Dengue Task Force in every school to conduct a massive public awareness campaign on the 4S strategy.

An Anti-Dengue Task Force is supposed to be created to monitor the campaign and create a Dengue Monitoring and Prevention Team of enforcers that will submit monthly reports. The amount of P100,000 was appropriated for the implementation of the ordinance.

Violations are punishable with a fine of P500 and three-hour community service for the first offense, P1,500 fine and similar community service for the second offense, and P2,500 fine and community service for the third offense.

Last week, during the first meeting of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) under the administration of Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento, no less than the chief of the Municipal Health Office, Dr. Elva Joson, called on the creation of the task force to monitor the implementation of the ordinance.

Unfortunately, the council, which had to be hurriedly reconstituted so its actions would be legal, did not delve into the possibility that the previous administration, which many of the council members served, did not implement the ordinance.

With the local health office reporting 73 new cases over the past two weeks, the total number of dengue cases so far in 2019 came up to 203. This is a 634 percent increase over the 32 cases recorded over the same period last year.

It is lamentable that despite the 24 months that have passed since the enactment of the ordinance, not much has been done both on the part of the municipal government and the 63 barangays as well as their constituents who have forgotten the old tradition of cleaning the yard every afternoon.

When would they learn the lessons of dengue, that all it takes to vanquish the disease is to clean their surroundings and deprive mosquitoes of their breeding places?

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