By Danny O. Calleja
Health authorities in Bicol are engaging in a showdown with two killer diseases plaguing some parts of the region.
Dengue is in the frontline of the battlefield that the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) here over the weekend said was being tackled by local authorities, particularly in Naga City.
The next in the enemy line is diarrhea that is attacking scores of residents in Nabua, Camarines Sur.
In Naga City, the local government has declared a state of calamity in response to the increasing number of dengue cases in the locality.
From last January to May, DOH regional director for Bicol Nestor Santiago here said reports from the City Health Office (CHO) of Naga counted a total of 284 dengue cases that were admitted in various hospitals in the city.
From at least 25 of the city’s 27 barangays, the CHO recorded 68 cases in January, 29 in February, 85 in March, 51 in April and nine in May, he said.
The number is 91.7 percent higher than the cases recorded in the same period last year, DOH records show.
Santiago said four Naga City barangays registered the highest number of dengue so far and these are the urban villages of Dayangdang with 38 cases; San Felipe, 35; Concepcion Pequeña, 22; and Calauag, 22.
The Naga City government under Mayor John Bongat is very much on alert against dengue cases as it was able to develop a high level of apprehension owing to the 685 cases recorded last year.
“When dengue is inevitable due to some factors that are present in Naga City, Mayor Bongat want a significantly lower number this year that is why the city was immediately placed under a state of calamity status so that the available local resources are utilized to contain the outbreak,” Santiago said.
Massive cleanliness measures as well as information campaigns have been put in place in all those barangays affected as Santiago said the 4S (search and destroy, seek early consultation, say no to indiscriminate fogging and self-protection) anti-dengue strategy should always be applied.
Under a state of calamity, the city legislative council, which passed a resolution to this effect, appropriated P1 million for the dengue prevention and purchase of medicines.
Tomas Briñas, the regional director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) over the weekend said his office gave priority to Naga City in the distribution of Ovicidal-Larvicidal (OL) Traps made available by the agency for distribution to schools nationwide.
The OL Trap is a simple technology developed by the DOST that kills the eggs and larvae of the mosquito that carries the dengue virus.
DOST’s school-based OL Trap program intends to reduce the number of mosquito population in schools and communities and subsequently lower dengue incidents, Briñas said
In this program, DOST works very closely with the health, education and local government departments with each agency given a very important role in the program to significantly reduce the number of dengue cases among school children, he said.
This system, he said has been introduced to the public by the DOST in partnership with the DOH and some local government units (LGUs) in Bicol last year and hundreds of households in the region are already using it and enjoying its benefits in controlling aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the known dengue virus carrier.
The partnership is covered by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) wherein the DOST produces the OL trap while the DOH and the LGUs distribute and identify household beneficiaries, respectively. Under the Aquino administration, the OL trap system has been adopted as one of the multi-pronged government solutions in fighting dengue in the country, Briñas said.
For this year, Briñas said the DOST central office has prepared 435,000 OL traps to be distributed to all public schools across the country in time with the opening Monday of the regular classes.
In the nearby town of Nabua meanwhile, Santiago said at least 70 residents from three of its barangays were reported by the Municipal Health Office (MHO) last week to be suffering from diarrhea suspected to be cause by water contamination.
These barangays were La Purisima, Malawag and Sto. Domingo and Santiago said investigations conducted by the DOH regional surveillance unit found out that the victims got their drinking water from a deep well serving as a communal water source.
This water source, where villagers also do their washing and bathing, could be affected by fecal contamination since septic tanks of several households are located not far from it.