DOH probes lambanog poisoning incident in Laguna

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2019   •   507

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it is now investigating reports of poisoning cases allegedly caused by the ingestion of coconut wine or lambanog in Laguna.

DOH data showed that 265 individuals from Rizal town in Laguna have fallen ill after drinking lambanog.

Of this number, 66 were brought to the Philippine General Hospital for treatment and observation. Forty-nine of them are male between 13 to 65 years old.

The DOH said all had history of lambanog ingestion between December 19 to 22.

Sixty-two other affected individuals were brought to the East Avenue Medical Center, 82 were taken to Rizal Medical Center, 13 to Quirino Memorial Medical Center and 42 to Batangas Medical Center for medical management.

The DOH assured it is on top of the issue as it continues to investigate the alleged lambanog poisoning.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly issued warnings to lambanog brewers over its high methanol content, and urged the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming the alcohol beverage.

It also advised the public to only buy lambanog brews that are registered with the FDA.

“Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“I urge everyone to avoid drinking alcoholic drinks this holiday season. Let us stay sober as we celebrate the festivities with our families and loved ones,” he added.

The DOH chief said that FDA regulatory inspectors have been deployed to Rizal, Laguna to collect samples, and investigate the alleged poisoning incident. Teams have also been dispatched to different health facilities where affected individuals were referred.

DOH proposes COVID-19 swab test ‘price cap’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 21, 2020

The Department of Health on Monday (September 21) said it has submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte its recommendation for an executive order issuance that would place a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swab tests.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department has noticed the differential pricing of swab tests in laboratories across the country. She added that the current law on price ceiling for medicines excludes diagnostics and professional fees.

“We may be able to have this executive order so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs, or prices of testing for COVID-19,” she said.

The DOH official also said the department will conduct small surveys to determine price range and will consult experts and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regarding the swab test prices. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH to conduct nationwide measles campaign beginning October 26

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 21, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will conduct a nationwide measles and polio supplemental immunization campaign starting October 26.

DOH Secretary Secretary Francisco Duque said there is still a need to prevent possible measles outbreak especially while the country is facing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

As of August 2020, there are around 3,500 reported measles cases with 36 deaths. Most of the cases are among children under five years old.

The nationwide Measles Rubella-Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization campaign will be rolled out in two phases. The DOH will be conducting the campaign for children under five years old which is around 9.4 million children for the measles-rubella vaccine and 6.9 million children for the oral polio vaccine.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-quality immunization campaign is urgently needed to stop measles transmission and possible outbreaks. We encourage parents and caregivers to have their children immunized. The measles vaccine is safe, effective and free,” he said.

The DOH’s immunization campaign is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnoro said there have been immunization challenges brought by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are at an especially challenging time when immunization for children is being threatened. All of us must do our part in ensuring children in our family are immunized, and that we provide the correct information to parents, community members and among our peers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Duque also assured that the health care workers who will participate in the campaign have been trained and will be provided with personal protective equipment.

The Phase 1 of the campaign will be conducted from 26 October to 25 November 2020 in Mindanao Regions, CAR, I, II, IV-B and V. Phase 2 will be conducted in February 2021 in Visayas Regions, NCR, III and IV-A. AAC

Expect surge in COVID-19 cases as test results from over 30 labs are delayed – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   September 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) sees a surge in the number of cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the coming days as over 30 laboratories in the country are still yet to submit their respective cases bulletin to the agency. 

The DOH said 34 out of the 115 licensed testing laboratories have delayed results in their COVID-19 tests. 

“This means there are confirmed cases per day that have not been reported yet officially and will come out this week,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We may have an irregularly high number of cases in the coming days as cases from these laboratories get reported. We will ensure to highlight which of these cases are late reports,” she added.

The DOH points at incomplete information such as patients’ address and contact number as the cause of the delays in submitting their case bulletins. 

Such information is vital to the contract tracing efforts of the government. 

On September 1, the DOH required the testing laboratories to encode all information of their patients because the agency’s COVID-19 Data Repository System does not accept incomplete information.

“The main factor was the change in or the additional two variables–the complete address and the phone numbers that were stated to be mandatory,” Vergeire said.

“Hindi makakapasok or makaka-upload sa system noong kanilang submission if hindi kumpleto ang kanilang fields doon sa kanilang CIFs na isa-submit sa atin [They will not be able to enter or upload their submission into our system if the fields in the CIFs are incomplete],” she stressed.

Nonetheless, the official confirmed that the results have been gradually coming in from the concerned laboratories since Tuesday (September 8).

Once the results from these laboratories are submitted, expect an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the DOH’s overall tally.

Should these laboratories still fail to submit their reports next week, Vergeire said the DOH will push to sanction them. 

34 Labs failed to submit their data to the COVID-19 Data Repository System 

1. AL Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory

2. Amosup Seamen’s Hospital

3. Bohol Containerized PCR Laboratory

4. Butuan Medical Center

5. Cagayan Valley CHD TB Reference Laboratory

6. Calamba Medical Center

7. Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital

8. Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital

9. Daniel O. Mercado Medical Center

10. Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory

11. Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center

12. Fe Del Mundo Medical Center

13. Green City Medical Center

14. Hi-Precision Diagnostics  QC

15. Ilocos Training Regional Medical Center (GX)

16. Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory

17. Marilao Medical and Diagnostic Clinic

18. NKTI – GX

19. Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory

20. Philippine Heart Center

21. Philippine Red Cross

22. Philippine Red Cross – Clark Mol Lab (PAMPANGA)

23. Philippine Red Cross – Logistics and Training- SUBIC, ZAMBALES

24. Philippine Red Cross – Molecular Biology Laboratory

25. Philippine Red Cross – PLMC Laboratory

26. Philippine Red Cross – Port Area

27. Qualimed Hospital – San Jose del Monte

28. Qualimed Hospital Sta. Rosa

29. Safeguard DNA Diagnostics

30. San Lazaro Hospital

31. San Miguel Foundation Testing Laboratory

32. The Doctors Hospital, Inc.

33. Tondo Medical Center

34. University of Perpetual Help System Dalta

SOURCE: DOH

MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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