THE City Council of Bacolod unanimously approved the request of Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia to declare of the city under the state of 'imminent danger' due to the threat of dengue.

Leonardia earlier asked the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH)'s regional office whether he should declare the city under a state of calamity, based on the increase of dengue cases.

DOH regional director Dr. Ariel Valencia recommended that the rate of increase is not within calamity proportions yet but he recommended the declaration of a state of imminent danger due to the threat of further increases in dengue cases.

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Leonardia discussed the recommendation with City Health Officer Dr. Salome Biñas, Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson and Councilor Roberto Rojas, chairman of the City Council Committee on Health who all concurred with the DOH suggestion.

This is already the second time that Bacolod was also placed under a state of imminent danger on dengue because such a declaration was also made last year.

Rojas, who sponsored the resolution approving the mayor's request, explained that the declaration of the state of imminent danger will still allow the city to access the calamity funds.

Though there is no state of actual calamity, the funds can still be used for programs to pre-empt a calamity, which is in imminent danger of occurring, Rojas added.

Although the increase in dengue cases in Bacolod is only 12 percent and is lower compared to those of other cities in Negros Occidental, Leonardia said the city will take the preventive approach because the rainy season creates an environment conducive to the possible increase of dengue cases.

"Our direction now is more on the preventive side. The declaration of the city under the state of imminent danger on dengue will authorize the use of the calamity fund to fight dengue," he explained.

Vice Mayor Sayson said that the city's access to the calamity funds will be a big help to the residents, especially the poor, who might suffer from the disease.

"My own son was diagnosed with dengue recently and it entailed a big expense on my part," Sayson said.

He fully understands the financial burden and suffering of families, especially the poor, whose members are stricken with dengue fever.

To assist these poor families, Bacolod will establish a "Support Service Desk" for indigents in the Western Visayas Regional Hospital to help families, which need regular complete blood count (CBC) to determine their patients' platelet level and also indigent patients who need blood transfusion.

Dr. Biñas has reported that since January to July 2010, the City Health Office (CHO) has undertaken measures to fight dengue.

Among these measures were epidemiological and entomological surveys in 460 households reported with dengue cases, fogging operations in 3,326 households, and larvacidal treatment of areas with stagnant water in 61 barangays.

In collaboration with non-government organizations, Philippine National Red Cross and media partners, the CHO launched health education and information dissemination campaigns in the barangays and schools.

It strengthened the barangay dengue brigade and implemented the dengue-free school initiative, which is already 90 percent accomplished. (Carla N. Cañet)