A drive to save children from dengue

LUCRECIA Abueva often bursts into tears whenever someone reminds her of her six-year-old grandson, Vince.

The 75-year-old resident of Sitio Bugnay 2, Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City lost her grandson to dengue fever last February.

Vince was one of 23 people from Cebu City who have died of dengue fever from January to June this year.

Gikan sa pagkatawo hangtud namatay siya, ako ang ga-bantay niya (From the day he was born to the day he died, I took care of him),” said Abueva, a mother of three.

Vince, she recalled, contracted fever a week before he died. When Vince’s fever grew worse two days after it started, Abueva and Vince’s mother brought the boy to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) to have him checked.

Doctors thought Vince’s fever was due to a viral infection and eventually sent him home to rest.

Thinking that Vince’s illness may have been caused by witchcraft, Abueva brought the boy to a faith healer in Barangay Punta Princesa.

But Vince’s condition worsened further.

One Saturday dawn, Abueva brought Vince to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), another public hospital in Cebu City, after large amounts of blood were found in his urine and feces.

Vince died at noon that day. He died of dengue shock syndrome.

Five months after, Abueva is still devastated.

Mura kog maboang. Hangtod karun, bug-at gihapon ang akong gibati kung makahinumdum ko sa kamatayon sa akong apo (I thought I’d lose my mind. Until now, I feel terrible when I remember how my grandson died,” she added.

Just a few days after Vince died, his neighbor, Fritz Gerald Ngalot, 10, was also hospitalized for dengue fever.

Close call

Aquilisa Ngalot, Fritz’s mother, said her son contracted fever just four days after Vince died. Ngalot said she immediately brought her son to the hospital after he started to have high fever, hallucinations and pain in his lower extremities.

Gasige lang siyag gangisi ug gasalimoang. Nakulbaan nako sa dihang niingon siya nga dili na siya kaila nako (He hallucinated. I felt nervous when he told me he didn’t recognize me),” Ngalot said.

But unlike Vince, Fritz’s condition was immediately addressed after his parents brought him to a private hospital.

It was a close call, Ngalot said.

Vince’s death, she said, made parents like and her husband more watchful of their children’s health.

According to a recent report provided by the Cebu City Health Office, at least 67 persons have fallen will with dengue fever in Barangay Labangon from January to June this year. Three have died.

Labangon is only second to Barangay Guadalupe, which had 87 cases of dengue fever from January to June this year.

Next to Labangon is Barangay Quiot, with 62 cases.

Labangon, along with Barangays Kalunasan and Mambaling, had the most number of dengue deaths, with three each. Barangays Camputhaw, Duljo and Inayawan had two deaths each.

Stay clean

One person each in Barangays Kamagayan, T. Padilla, Lorega, Lahug, Punta Princesa, Guba, and Cogon-Pardo died of dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

To help address the increasing dengue cases and deaths in Barangay Labangon, local health officials have to constantly remind their constituents on the importance of proper sanitation.

Cecille Donque, a nurse in the Labangon Health Center, said that every Friday, she and other barangay health personnel visit one sitio per week to conduct “clean and green” drives and to destroy potential breeding sites of mosquitoes.

There are 49 sitios in Barangay Labangon.

They apply chemical insecticide to house curtains, a process called curtain impregnation, to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes.

Donque lamented that despite their numerous efforts to lessen dengue cases and deaths in their barangay, some residents have refused to heed them.

Mura nami’g sirang plaka. Halos gabalik-balik na ang among pahimangno sa mga tawo nga kailangan limpyohan gyud nila ang ilang tugkaran (We sound like a broken record. We keep telling people to keep their surroundings clean),” Donque said.

But their efforts may have paid off, considering that dengue cases from April to June were significantly lower compared to the recorded cases from January to March.

With the ongoing dengue vaccination program being offered in their barangay, Donque hopes that dengue fever may soon become a thing of the past.
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