THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged local government units (LGUs) on Thursday, August 4, 2022, to undertake proactive measures to help prevent the spread of monkeypox in their areas of jurisdictions.

“While everyone is assured that our public health surveillance systems are able to detect and confirm monkeypox cases, all LGUs are nonetheless called to carry out measures in close coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) in stemming the spread of this new virus,” said DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr.

The DOH confirmed on July 29 the country’s first case of monkeypox -- a 31-year-old returning overseas Filipino. The patient has already been tagged as recovered.

Abalos said that while the country’s health authorities are already strictly monitoring inbound and outbound travelers for monkeypox cases, it would be in the best interest of the LGUs to be prepared for any eventualities.

“The adage prevention is better than cure still applies today. As the primary frontliners in your areas, it behooves upon our LGUs to initiate precautionary measures and spread awareness to your constituents about monkeypox and what they need to do about it,” he said.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is spread mostly by sexual contact with those who have rashes and open lesions, said the DOH.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, backpain, muscle aches, lack of energy, and skin eruptions.

Abalos, in an advisory, enjoined provincial governors and city/municipal mayors to ensure the readiness of their respective local health offices, epidemiologic and surveillance units, and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams to implement the DOH guidelines and protocols on the surveillance, screening, management, and infection control of monkeypox.

“Katulad ng ginawa natin sa laban kontra Covid-19, kailangang magsagawa na tayo ng mga preparasyon at ihanda na natin ang mga tauhan natin para siguraduhing hindi na dadami pa at lalala ang mga kaso ng monkeypox sa bansa,” he said.

He also said that LGUs should closely monitor travelers from countries with reported or ongoing cases of monkeypox who are experiencing signs and symptoms of the disease.

He told the LGUs to coordinate with private healthcare facilities to ensure the reporting of individuals experiencing symptoms and report information on suspected or confirmed cases to the DOH within 24 hours.

He also urged the public to strictly adhere to minimum public health standards (MPHS) set by the DOH, conduct disinfection measures, practice good hand and respiratory hygiene, and minimize contact with sick persons to limit infection.

“This is not the first time that we are faced with a huge health concern. We have been through the worst of times during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic so we are now more resilient as a people and can rise above any other challenge, including monkeypox,” he said. (LMY/With PR)