Dealing with dengue

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

Straight from Carolinas

Saturday, December 21, 2013


IT WASN’T a good past week for me because my grandson Christian Palmes Mejorada was hospitalized due to dengue.

His platelets went down and this set off alarm bells in my head because I know how dangerous dengue is.

Samsam is okay now and out of the hospital after a week confinement. But the recovery took one full week and it was an anxiety filled week as Samsan’s platelets crashed from 160 to 59.

His platelet count returned to 160. While I know dengue is a familiar disease especially in the Philippines, allow me to explain what it is.

According to a medical dictionary, dengue is an acute disease caused by a bite from a particular species of mosquito which can cause internal hemorrhaging that can prove fatal.

At the time Samsam was at the hospital, I posted his plight on my Facebook account and asked, nay implored my friends to storm the heavens with their prayers to God asking that He heals Samsam.

I also asked for suggestions on what to do and what treatments to administer and the common suggestion was to use the weed locally known as “tawa-tawa.”

Of the 100 comments, I counted “tawa tawa” got so many likes. Of course there were other alternative ideas such as durian, ice-cream, carica syrup and pounded papaya leaves.

Many testified that their children, nephews and nieces got ill due to dengue and an extract of “tawa-tawa” helped restore their platelets.

Dealing with dengue isn't new to me. During my journalism days in Cagayan de Oro, I've been reporting about dengue cases and how “tawa-tawa” is said to be cure for that disease.

It pains me to remember the casualties of dengue, one of whom was the son of a family friend. Pitong de Torres, a certified public accountant at the prime of his life died due to dengue.

I thought this disease had been eradicated already but I learned that Samsam's class also had two children who contracted dengue during that same week gives credence to suspicions that the school had some areas that had become breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Apparently nothing has been done within the 10-year period when dengue was on the rise. At best, palliative measures have been done by local health authorities such as information campaigns and the so-called '4 o' clock habit' of burning leaves and cleaning one's surroundings of stagnant water that breeds these mosquitoes.

I think these mosquitoes are hard to eradicate. We can't do that only by legislation but by study and concrete action.

I remember there was a study done by the College of Agriculture of Xavier University on the efficacy of “tawa-tawa” as dengue treatment using white mice. I don't know what became of that.

What is keeping the government from finishing that research? No budget again? Are we waiting for other countries to finish the project for us? Dengue, like most diseases, can be cured if detected early.

This is the country's chance to show to the rest of the world that we can do research and create our own cure for diseases that plague its citizens. It's a lot better than the waiting sheds being paid for by a congressman's pork barrel. Until now, the Department of Health (DOH) still advises the public not to be dependent on “tawa-tawa” as a dengue cure despite its proven efficacy. Which is all the more reason why we should continue with the research to find the be-all and end-all cure for dengue.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 22, 2013.

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