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Wednesday, August 21, 2019
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Literatus: Dengue vaccination paralysis: Preventing ‘Killed, Killed, Killed’

Breakthroughs

THE ongoing national dengue epidemic was a disaster waiting to happen when legal politics intervened with health and science. Ignorance may be bliss. However, when ignorance insists on being correct, that constitutes the essence of fakery from which fake news and historical revisionism emerge. In this period of post-truth and political propagandism, health issues can become as ignored as the truth.

Unfortunately, the brunt of health disaster comes upon the weak, the poor and the children. Since July 20, almost 150,000 dengue cases were recorded, which the Department of Health (DOH) signified as a 98 percent increase from the same period last year. In fact, 622 already died nationwide from dengue hemorrhagic disease.

The centers of this epidemic are 17 regions: Bicol (Region V), Calabarzon (Region IV-A), Eastern Visayas (Region VIII), Mimaropa (Region XVII), Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas (Region VI), and the Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX). In less than a month, the epidemic spread from four regions—Central Visayas (as reported), Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao and Western Visayas—to 13 regions more.

The standard public management of dengue today consists of conducting a serological confirmation of past exposure with any dengue virus and the vaccination of those who have not been exposed before.

Since the Dengvaxia political fiasco, I have not read of any news report that the DOH conducted public serological confirmation tests for past dengue infection. If the DOH did, I invite them to send to us their past and present schedules for these tests, so that Filipinos reading this article will be informed.

The problem with non-testing is that, if the DOH cannot conduct the tests, then it could not vaccinate for dengue using Dengvaxia. Therefore, by not conducting massive testing of Filipino children, the DOH is paralyzing itself from conducting any dengue vaccination at all.

How far propagandist politics play in this DOH paralysis is something we can only speculate. What can be seen, however, are the deaths of 622 Filipinos nationwide, more than the 44 Special Action Force troopers killed in a legitimate armed encounter in 2015, and rivaling the deaths in the early months of the anti-drug campaign. For the DOH celebrating the Adolescent Immunization Month, this is unfortunate.

The government is borrowing billions, if not trillions, of pesos for the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. We hope that it will not be ignoring the “Killed, Killed, Killed” situation of children from the lack of a dengue vaccination program today.

Dengue vaccination should be conducted immediately. Second dengue infections are usually fatal and kill. It is a race between the vaccine entering the child’s blood stream or the virus-laden mosquito bite.


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