Friday, September 10, 2010

Absence of Natural Predators Enhances Dengue Outbreak

Members of the Aklan Blood Coordinating Council (ABCC) took their time off from busy schedules to attend Kapehan forum on Saturday, September 4, 2010 at Smokehauz Resto & Bar. The resource persons are Dr. Oscar Tinio – Pres. Phil Medical Assn. (PMA), Dr. Cynthia C. Dela Cruz–chairperson ABCC, Dr. Oscar Hilario–AMS, Lt. Col. Edgar I. Yerro–Community Defense Center of Aklan, Leo T. Batiles–Aklan Police Director for Com-munications, Dr. Eleopoldo Magpusao and Dr. Maria Magpusao–DOH – PRC, Dr. Emmet L. Custodio–AMS, and Ms. Arcely Pelayo–Administrator, Philippine Red Cross, Aklan Chapter.

Dr. Oscar Tinio reminded the public that third week of September is Medicine week celebration. First declared by Pres. Carlos P. Garcia, the PMA is presently focused on perils of smoking. He said that all 118 component groups in the country will coordinate with LGU’s to implement statutory provision against smoking in public places in view of the deleterious effects to human health. The prime targets are persistent young adults and physicians addicted to the drug.

Dr. Dela Cruz said, ABCC is organized two weeks ago through AO No. 2010 – 002 by Gov. Carlito S. Marquez. The members come from public and private sectors namely: DOH – PHO, PRC, PNP and the mass media The main objective is the establishment and operation of Blood Bank.

Meanwhile, a state of emergency against Dengue has been declared by the provincial government of Aklan as sporadic but rising cases are reported.

Dr. Magpusao cited the need for closed coordination among health agencies and LGU’s in the implementation of projects especially on environmental sanitation. He cited problems encountered like the need of blood platelets since the province does not have the blood platelet separating machine. The annual blood requirement is 5,000 units of blood for our reserve supply but only half of this amount is available.

According to Dr. Custodio, health adviser to Kalibo Mayor William Lachica, the prevention of Dengue is the key to our survival. He underscored the treatment of the disease does not involve antibiotics. The use of folk medicine like "tawa-tawa" has no approved therapeutic claims and may result to complication particularly those taking drugs against diabetes and hypertension.

Custodio is supported by Col. Yerro who underscored the slogan: "an once of prevention is better than a pound of cure." Dengue is indeed preventable if only we are mindful of our carefree habits and ningas cogon mentality. The bulk of blood donation to the blood bank comes from the ROTC cadets of Northwestern Visayan Colleges, Aklan State University, and members of PNP. Actually, blood letting activities have started this year in Ibajay and Altavas while other municipalities will soon follow.

Figures from PHO revealed that as of August 19, 2010, Aklan had registered 370 Dengue cases, three of which were fatal. Usually, it costs P12,000 to P14,000 per family with Dengue case to undergo hospitalization and blood platelet transfusion in Iloilo City or Roxas City.

Considering that Aklan province has not yet acquired the blood platelet separating machine and trained the necessary medical staff at the provincial hospital, poor people will resort to desperate measures as "tawa-tawa" concoctions. Some of them testify to have recovered, but patients may have to do with replenishment of essential body fluids and electrolytes. Definitely "tawa – tawa" has no clinical test, Dr. Tinio stressed.

To address the need of medical equipment, local resources must be tapped like diverting some intelligence fund of PNP or discretionary fund of local executives. Of course, probable outsourcing could be the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and charitable international organizations.

It is commendable that Buruanga has not reported any Dengue case for the past two years. Whether this is due to its geographic location (76 kms NW from Kalibo), rolling to mountainous terrain or effective handling of its primary health care program, this must be thoroughly studied. It is believed the latter need to be adopted as model for all towns in Aklan.

Dengue outbreak based on its severity and occurrence is no longer considered seasonal but non-seasonal. The insect vector Aedis agypti and Aegis albofectus, all mosquito species thrive only in crowded filthy environments with stagnant water. The prevalence of this pest is assured because the most common natural predator, the dragon fly is no more. In fact the insect friendly to farmers are rapidly decimated by pesticides.

Indeed, biological control or use of natural predators is part of the integrated pest management program of DA. Predators of mosquito include: dragon fly, damsel fly, spider, frogs, fruit bats, lizards and fish. Ecological balance must be maintained between predators and preys to prevent infestation or diseases outbreak.

Normally, mosquitoes feed on plant sap for its growth and sustenance. Life cycle is less than three weeks. Only the female mosquito sucks human blood and transfers diseases in the process. Mosquitoes cannot transmit the Dengue virus unless it has bitten an infected person. If there is "no Dengue patient around, no Dengue fever outbreak". This is the reason why Dengue patients in hospital wards are always covered with mosquito nets.

Former Sec. Juan Flavier once advocated the use of chemically treated mosquito nets. This was availed by indigent families as a preventive strategy. This time of national emergency and increasing health concerns, the DOH must consider low budget programs that are simple and doable.

ABCC may be effective only when the government provides logistics and personnel support. Private sector cooperation from AMS and the mass media have been admirable. A healthy and enduring partnership among them is expected. /MP

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