Philippines declares national dengue epidemic as cases top 146,000

Henrietta Brewer
August 9, 2019

It said the outbreak caused 622 deaths.

"This is really staggering", said Francisco Duque, the health secretary.

The Department of Health (DOH) has declared a national dengue epidemic due to the continuous surge of dengue cases in the country.

At least 146,062 cases of Dengue fever have been reported from January to July 20, showing a 98 percent jump from the same period previous year.

He said the declaration of an epidemic was needed so local governments in badly hit places could use "quick response funds" to fight the disease.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said a national emergency or state of calamity had not been declared, noting that there were "just areas where there are many cases of dengue".

About 400 million people around the globe are infected by dengue every year, making it the most widespread mosquito-borne disease. It can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash, and can cause breathing problems, haemorrhaging and organ failure in severe cases. It introduced the ban in February following the deaths of several dozen children who were among more than 700,000 people given shots in 2016 and 2017 in a government immunisation campaign.

The increase in dengue cases in the Philippines comes two years after the government stopped a mass immunization programme using the vaccine Dengvaxia, manufactured by French firm Sanofi Pasteur.

Starting today, the Department of Health together with other government agencies, LGUs, schools, offices, and communities will conduct the Sabayang 4-O'clock Habit para Deng-Get Out, focusing on search and destroy of mosquito breeding sites.

"Right now, the status on Dengvaxia as a vaccine against dengue is its CPR (Certificate of Product Registration) has been permanently revoked".

Other Southeast Asian countries have also reported an upsurge in dengue cases this year, according to the WHO.

In Cagayan de Oro City, Dr. Adriano Suba-an, acting health director for Northern Mindanao, said 15,995 dengue cases had been monitored in the region from January to August 3, an increase of 62 percent from the same period past year. Vietnam over the same period had 81,132 cases with four deaths reported, compared with 26,201 cases including six deaths in 2018.

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