Heads will roll

Sara threatens to fire health officials as 19 dengue deaths since January
AFTER seeing the increasing reports of dengue deaths and suspected cases in the city, mayor Inday Sara Duterte warned health officials to step up their prevention efforts if they don’t want to be axed from their positions.

“I want to see a decrease from July to December, otherwise, there is a need to find new people for this job,” Duterte said in a statement, expressing both concern and shock over the current deaths.

The City Health Office (CHO) has so far recorded 19 mortalities from the over 4,000 patients since January. The same data set showed that last year, only eight people in Davao died from dengue.

“That the number of deaths could reach this high is definitely disconcerting and I am appalled because the government is supposed to be doing everything to prevent the breeding of the mosquitoes carrying the virus,” Duterte said on Thursday.

She said dengue is preventable “if only efforts to prevent the spread were done and were done efficiently.”

She said that she has ordered a review of the prevention efforts of the CHO.

“They should always be on their feet, always to err on the side of prevention and not on reaction,” she said.

The CHO, with a  budget of P1 million for dengue program, has been regularly treating curtain and bed nets with chemicals that effectively ward off mosquitoes, according to the City Information Office,

“The city provides the needed materials for the soaking of bed nets and curtains,” said Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, CHO chief.

Villafuerte on Wednesday confirmed that as of June, Davao City has 4,002 dengue cases. The CHO data also showed that of the 19 deaths, at least 11 of them were children — the oldest only aged 5.

Records show a massive increase in dengue cases across the country, with over 57 thousand cases since January.

“This only means that the entire country needs to be alert and must do our part in cleaning our environment and destroying the breeding areas of the mosquitoes,” Villafuerte said.

A different data set from the Department of Health in the region shows that from January to July this year, Davao has 1,648 cases.

DOH dengue prevention program head Antonetta Ebol attributed these cases to the idea that the aedes mosquito has already adapted to the city’s environment.

A huge chunk of the 4,564 suspected dengue cases in the Davao Region involve children.  DOH shows that children 1-14 years old are most vulnerable to dengue. There are 796 dengue cases among children aged 1-4; age groups 5-9 had 1071, and 10-14 had 854.

Ebol added that dengue hot spots in the city are Talomo (462), Poblacion (258), Buhangin (254), Agdao (157), Bunawan (124), and Tugbok (123) districts. The dengue deaths that hit the city were in Bunawan (2), Toril (2), Agdao (1), Poblacion (1) Talomo (1) and Tugbok (1).

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chair on the city’s committee on health, told TIMES that she is closely coordinating with DOH-XI regional director.

“He assured me that they are exhausting all efforts to help all affected communities within the Davao Region,” she said.

These efforts include giving insecticide-treated mosquito nets, screens and curtains; fogging; and reinforcing the 4 PM habit through dengue task force in barangays.

She also said that there are no gaps missed out by the dengue preventions efforts of the city. “We have a very active tropical disease unit,” she said.

She added that random confirmatory tests done by the Southern Philippines Medica Center showed that only three or four cases our of 20 come out as dengue positive.

“But this is not a reason to relax,” she said. SHe added that the mayor was right when she wanted to strengthen prevention efforts.

She also made it clear that the number of dengue cases reported is classified as suspected dengue cases based on signs and symptoms. These have yet to be verified by laboratory tests.