Parents urged to avail free vaccination for children vs. Japanese encephalitis

Marje Pelayo   •   February 5, 2019   •   2257

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Architect Neil Licayan lost his daughter to Japanese encephalitis (JE).

Neil remembered Jessica, then 15 years old, as a sporty, young athlete before her health started to deteriorate when she suffered from the disease.

Jessica died in 2018.

“She was active sa school. She was athletic. Dito po sa aming munting rest house, lahat ng gusto niya we play basketball together. She loved swimming in school and she was the most diligent among us sa pag intake po ng vitamins,” Neil said.

Neil recalled how swift the complications began to appear from what they initially thought was an ordinary headache, though her fever went on and off for two to three days.

“Typical lagnat so we were not that concerned,” he said.

“(It was) Saturday, (we went for her) check up. Naglalakad sa school ipapa-IV lang po namin siya para kasi final exams just so makabawi ang strength niya. Sunday morning comatosed na po ang anak ko and Tuesday wala na po siya. Ganoon kabilis,” he added.

The Department of Health (DOH) Region 3 warned parents to monitor their children especially if they show flu-like symptoms.

“Ang sintomas ng Japanese encephalitis ay katulad rin ng marami. Kapag ikaw ay nagkaka-trangkas or flu-like (symptoms) – mayroon siyang lagnat, nananakit ang kasukasuan, masakit ang ulo – sa mga bata kadalasan sumasakit ang kanilang tiyan,” explained Dr. Maria Rosario Vergerie.

“Maaari mo siyang ihalintulad sa ibang sakit na parang mga trangkaso,” she added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an average of 40,000 patients dying of Japanese encephalitis every year where three patients out of 10, die of the disease.

In most cases, the WHO said, patients develop permanent disabilities such as paralysis, speech impairment and mental defects.

Based on DOH record, the highest number of Japanese encephalitis infection in the country in 2018 was recorded in Region 3 with 308 confirmed cases and 9 deaths.

“One of the reasons na mataas sa Region 3, ang central Luzon is the rice granary. So maraming palayan, marami tayong poultries na gustong gusto ng JE mosquito,” explained Dr. Jessie Fontane, Head of the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

“Medyo delikado po talaga yung Japanese encephalitis dahil po siya ay nakamamatay,” said DOH regional director Dr. Cesar Cassion.

Because of this, the DOH Region 3 will conduct a one-time mass immunization campaign on JE for free in seven provinces in the month of March which targets one million children age 9 months to 5 years-old who are the most vulnerable age group.

A vaccination is a lifetime protection for a child that’s why the agency is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.

The DOH assured the public that the government’s immunization program is safe and tested.

“Pero based naman doon sa mga track record ng mga bakuna na ito, more than 30 years na itong ginagamit in 12 countries. Gusto lang (natin) i-emphasize na 400 million doses na po ang naibigay. Based naman dun sa kasaysayan na ito, sa experience na ito na safe po ito at saka proven,” Cassion assured.

Japanese encephalitis is an infection spread through mosquito bites. It is a serious disease which takes 5 up to 15 days to develop. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, difficulty moving and confusion. It can be fatal if not immediately attended. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

Leptospirosis case now over 900; NKTI gym, converted into leptos ward

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has turned its gymnasium into an alternative ward for leptospirosis patients.

This is to accommodate patients with leptospirosis and be provided with immediate treatment for the deadly disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the recent rains that caused flooding had contributed to the increase in the number of leptospirosis patients in Metro Manila alone.

To date, the DOH has recorded 106 fatalities and more than 900 cases of leptospirosis. 300 of which are from the NCR.

“It’s really a problem because you know the environmental, sanitation and hygiene do affect the health of our people because the local government, for example, do not do their efficient garbage collection, so certainly it raises the risk of the populace,” DOH Sec. Francisco Duque added.

This, however, is still low compared to what was recorded last year in the last 2 years.

The DOH then urged the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective surroundings to prevent leptospirosis. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Number of dengue cases in NCR exceeds alert threshold – DOH

Maris Federez   •   August 16, 2019

A child suffering from dengue fever receives medical treatment at an isolation ward of a government-run hospital in Manila, Philippines, 16 July 2019. (Photoville International)

The National Capital Region (NCR) has recorded more than 11,000 dengue cases from January to August 10 this year.

This is 33% higher than what was recorded in the past five years.

“It’s starting to rise and just like the other regions that began with the alert levels, naging epidemic level na sila [they’ve reached the epidemic level]. Pwede pa ring sumipa ang dengue. Kaya hindi ho tayo pwedeng magpahinay-hinay [Dengue case can still go up. That’s why we should not be complacent],” Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The cities in the NCR where dengue cases have spiked include Paranaque, Malabon, Taguig, Makati, and Mandaluyong.

The DOH clarified that no medicine, supplement, or vaccine had been proven to cure dengue.

The health department also supports the move of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to fund the distribution of food supplements which may help increase an individual’s platelet count to avoid dengue.

“Wala namang gamot ang dengue. Wala ring bakuna. At kung meron man sila ng inaalay na makakagamot, hindi po totoo iyan. Ito po ay food suppmement lamang at kinakailangan merong FDA certificate of product registration [There is no medicine for dengue. No vaccine either. And if there are some who offer something that’s supposed to cure dengue, it’s not true. It’s just a food supplement and it needs to have FDA certificate of product registration],” Duque added.

The health official then reminded the public to clean their surroundings and eradicate dengue-mosquito breeding areas through the 4 o’clock habit using the 4S strategy:

  • Search and Destroy
  • Self- Protection
  • Seek Early Consultation
  • Support Space Spraying

This is to further prevent the number of dengue cases in Metro Manila to further exceed the health department’s alert threshold. (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Sanofi Pasteur optimistic Dengvaxia will be restored in PH market

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 15, 2019

French Pharmaceutical firm, Sanofi Pasteur expressed optimism that the Dengvaxia vaccine will be restored in the Philippine market.

In a statement, Sanofi Pasteur Philippines General Manager Jean Antoine Zinsou said they are open for a discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH).

He also clarified that Dengvaxia is safe and effective to use.

According to Zinsou, the said vaccine was only banned in the Philippines because of incomplete documents or due to “administrative consideration.”

“We definitely need to settle this issue. One way to do it is to discuss with FDA and see what is needed to have this revocation lifted,” he said.

Zinsou also said Dengvaxia is registered in 20 countries across the globe and is acknowledged by the United States Food Drug Administration and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, Sanofi agrees with the DOH that Dengvaxia is not a solution to the Dengue epidemic in the country.

READ: Dengvaxia won’t bring dengue cases down – DOH

“The vaccines that we are mentioning is not a solution or a silver bullet for the ongoing outbreak. We are open to any discussion with the health authorities to see what is needed, what do they need for the future,” Zinsou said.

In February this year, the FDA revoked the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia.

Sanofi already filed an appeal two weeks ago and the DOH will release their decision on the issue on August 19.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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