The anti-dengue campaign needs a new strategy
posted 24-Sep-2019  ·  
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     Last Aug. 7, 2019, Acting Governor Shirley Abundo issued a directive reiterating the order of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development Bicol for the implementation of the dengue epidemic response across the region in all provinces, municipalities and barangays.

     The DOH order directs local chief executives to issue policies in support of the 4-S implementation, focusing on the daily Sabayang 4 o’clock Habit in all barangays. It asked the local government units to reactivate the municipal and barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and their Emergency Operation Centers/Incident Command System, and mobilize the Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue (ABKD) and Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT).

     Hospitals, rural health units and other health facilities, as well as local government units, were also asked to implement related emergency response measures.

     In the same vein, Abundo also issued Executive Order No. 19 declaring every Friday of the month of August and September as Anti-Dengue Day to search and destroy all mosquito breeding sites and the conduct of “Aksyon Agad! Labanan ang Dengue!” clean-up drive.

     All government agencies, LGUs, schools, offices and communities shall make available their Fridays to do volunteer work within their sphere of authority to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, with the clean-up drive lasting from two to four hours that day, the EO stated.

     Twenty days after the issuance of the orders, the number of dengue cases began to surge at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center and the six other district hospitals.

     This spike that occurred Aug. 27-30 and the fact that the number of dengue cases in Catanduanes has now reached nearly 2,000, or more than 1,600 percent than the mere 109 cases recorded in 2018, is more than proof that the provincial government has failed to rally the people in the campaign to control the daybiting mosquito population.

     As the latest report shows, the Provincial Health Office blames the inadequate vector control on the insufficient involvement of the community even with the passage of ordinances and executive orders.

     It stressed that there are barangays which have been established to be endemic to Aedes mosquitoes and yet they have clustering of cases every now and then, evidence that nothing have been done in these villages.

     The failure to carry out the capitol’s directives is not confined to barangays, health officials say, as even public schools have been found to be ignoring them.

     For so many years now, the local health authorities have been warning everyone to destroy all mosquito breeding places: buildings under construction that accumulate stagnant water and solid waste; uncovered water drums, pails and similar containers; old or discarded tires; unused tin cans, jars, bottles, pots and the like out in the open; blocked roof gutters of roofs; abandoned swimming pools; waste in uninhabited structures/buildings; and, all plant vases and pots, open bamboo poles, free holes, leaf plant axis, other natural or artificial containers that may accumulate water

     Yet recent inspections show old tires still being used to weigh down roofs in barangays and even utilized as flower pots and fences in public schools.

     Barangay and school officials probably think they would not be penalized or charged administratively for failing to comply with the anti-dengue orders.

    A prime example is the municipality of Virac, where two years ago, 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.

    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).

    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.

     Not one in Virac, where there has been nearly 600 dengue cases so far this year, has been charged for violation of the apparently unimplemented ordinance.

     Perhaps, the Provincial Health Office should add a new tack to their anti-dengue presentations in the communities: a peso-by-peso itemization of the cost of getting sick of dengue, from hospitalization to discharge or death.

     If there is something that can scare the vote-selling population into destroying mosquito-breeding places, it will be the fact that, even if their loved one survives, they will likely lose a lot of whatever money they have.

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