Rabies vaccine in short supply—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 7, 2019   •   2473

Kinuskos ko ng bawang [ang sugat] (I just rubbed garlic on her wound),” Rose Ann Condeno said while cradling her daughter in her arms.

Her daughter was recently clawed by a stray cat while playing outside—she has not been vaccinated with anti-rabies.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo, victims of rabies rarely survive and almost 100 percent of them die without receiving anti-rabies vaccine.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be passed from an animal to a human through biting or clawing. Rabies cases in the country often spike during vacation when children spend more time outside.

Victims of rabies usually get infected following a bite or a scratch from a rabid stray dog or cat on the street.

“Siyempre kapag bakasyon iyong mga bata, wala na sa eskwela, naglalaro maghapon, naglalaro sa kalye and then dito talaga tayo nagkakroon na dumadami ang cases ng nakakagat ng aso (Of course, during vacation, they are no longer in school. They will mostly play all afternoon. This is when cases of animal bite rise),” Domingo said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 40 percent of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.

Condeno’s daughter, who is only 11 months old, did not experience any fever and appears to be in stable condition.

“May nagsabi nga sa akin na pa-injectionan siya, pero tinignan ko naman medyo mababaw, kaya naman na hindi siya nilagnat (Someone told me to get her vaccinated but I checked and the wound is not that deep. She did not experience any fever),” she adds.

The DOH said vaccination is a must because cleaning or using alternative medicines will not be enough to prevent the virus.

“Hindi pa rin tayo nakakasigurado siyempre, kailangan pa rin natin iyong anti-bodies na lalaban sa rabies (We cannot be sure, we still need the anti-bodies to fight rabies),” Domingo said.

However, the Health department laments the lack of supply of anti-rabies vaccine in the country.

In April last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that supplies of human anti-rabies vaccines across the globe are contaminated.

With this, Domingo urges everyone to be more careful especially with children who has an open wound.

They can also suffer from rabies if they were licked by an animal without anti-rabies vaccine.

“We are asking everybody to be extra careful kasi talagang mayroon pa tayong shortage ng ating anti- rabies vaccines sa humans sa buong mundo (We are asking everybody to be extra careful because there is a global shortage of human anti-rabies vaccines),” he said. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Drilon, Lacson urge DOH to drop proposed P11.7-B fund for contact tracing, adopt other effective solutions

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called on the Department of Health (DOH) to be resourceful in its contact tracing and to drop its proposed P11.7 billion funding for the hiring of 130,000 individuals for the project.

In a statement on Tuesday, Drilon said government agencies should exercise prudent judgment in the use of public funds in consideration of the country’s growing budget deficit due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“Mag-ingat po tayo sa paggasta ng pera ng taumbayan lalo sa panahon ng krisis,” Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Given the increasing budget deficit, which is projected to reach P1.56 trillion or 8.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year, this P11.7 billion should better be put to good use,” he added.

Drilon also backed Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s call to the DOH to divert the fund for contact tracing to the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

He said the health agency should stop insisting on its plan when it can find other ways “to do contact tracing without hurting the government coffers.”

The senator reiterated his proposal for the DOH to tap around 400,000 barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to carry out contact tracing to save the government huge amount of money.

“Since they are already organized, they can be quickly mobilized as contact tracers,” he said.

“Our objective to prevent the virus from spreading is based on our ability to efficiently identify the infected and notify those he or she has made contact with. Hence, contact tracing is a must and should never be neglected,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson urged the DOH to adopt cheap, yet effective contact tracing solutions of local government units (LGU).

He cited for example the LGU of Carmona, Cavite which developed an app that can track users’ location history using a mobile phone’s GPS. It also allows uses to log interactions with other people and do self-assessment if they experience symptoms.

“In just a few days of implementation, the local government has already signed up 42,000 out of the municipality’s 97,557 residents,” Lacson said.

“For those without smartphones, the local government’s barangay and police personnel can input the information for them,” he added.

The senator also cited Baguio City’s contact tracing scheme, which relies on the geographical information system platform to plot the areas where possible COVID-19 carriers live

“With these technologies, we can potentially save P11.7 billion being asked by the Department of Health for contact tracers. I share Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s sentiment that there are more practical uses for the amount,” he said, noting that the budget could be used for livelihood programs for those severely affected by community quarantine triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.

The DOH earlier said it is planning to hire more than 95,000 contact tracers to meet the World Health Organization’s recommended ratio of one tracer in every 800 people.

The proposed fund will be used to hire these contact tracers for three months.

COVID-19 cases in PHL breach 18,000; New cases mostly from Metro Manila – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country have climbed to 18,086 with 862 new cases reported on Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said that of the new cases, only 16 are “fresh” or those results that came out within three days while 846 are “late” or results belatedly reported.

Of the fresh cases, six are from the National Capital Region (NCR), while the remaining 10 are from other regions.

Of the late cases, 238 are from the NCR, 81 from Central Visayas, 235 are repatriates, and the remaining 292 are from other regions.

In its May 31 bulletin, the DOH noted that the fresh cases are based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 15 out of 42 current operational laboratories.

“Late cases reported from May 28 to 31 are based on the validation of complete line lists from 27 laboratories and the partial line list from one laboratory. No more late cases will be reported until the remaining 14 operational labs submit their line lists,” the DOH added.

The DOH also reported seven new fatalities for May 31, bringing the total deaths to 957 while recoveries rose to 3,909.

In a virtual briefing on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the increase in reported COVID-19 cases since Friday means that its current validation process is much faster after they have completed the COVID-19 test backlogs.

“Sana ay naiintindihan niyo po na kahit mataas ang mga bagong naitatalang kaso ay hindi po ibig sabihin na lumalala ang ating situation. Nawa ay napuksa na din ang pangamba sa inyong isipan ukol sa kung tama ba ang naging desisyon na mag transition to GCQ [general community quarantine],” she said.

The DOH earlier said that one of the experts’ basis in recommending to shift Metro Manila and other areas to GCQ is the slower case doubling rate, which is now noted at seven days compared to every two days pre-quarantine period in March.

Under GCQ, more businesses and offices are allowed to resume partial operations, and more employees have been authorized to return to work, provided that minimum health standards are observed. Public transportation operations have also resumed but only at limited capacity.

The department, however, called on the public to remain vigilant and to continue observing health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask and maintaining good hygiene to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

“Kahit nasa GCQ na tayo, hindi ito ibig sabihin na relax na rin tayo sa mga protocols natin. Sa Lunes, pagpasok ng mga may trabaho, paglabas ng bahay, huwag po kalimutang magsuot ng [face] mask, dumistansya ng isang metro sa mga katabi, magbaon ng alcohol para sa mga kamay,” Vergeire urged. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Duque: Pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto, ligtas basta’t matitiyak ang minimum health standards

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na ligtas ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 basta’t maipatutupad ang kinakailangang minimum health standards sa mga paaralan.

Inihayag ni Duque ang kanyang opinyon nang hingan siya ng pahayag ni Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sa isinagawang virtual hearing ng Senate Committee on Health and Demography ngayong Martes.

“Pag-aralan po namin maigi ito pero sa tingin po namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Ang kinakailangan po rito, siguraduhin lamang na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” ani Duque.

Kabilang aniya sa minimum health standards na kailangang masunod ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical distancing, palagiang paghuhugas at pagdi-disinfect ng mga kamay at pagkakaroon ng thermal scanner upang ma-check kung mataas ang temperatura ng katawan ng isang tao.

“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng ating pong mga paaralan at meron din po tayong evidence-based na atin pong titingnan gaya ng ginagawa po ng IATF,” ani Duque.

“We will continue to evaluate yung mga bilang ng mga kaso down to the barangay levels,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang public address noong Lunes ng gabi na hindi siya papayag na muling magbalik-eskwela ang mga mag-aaral hangga’t walang natutuklasang bakuna kontra novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa paglilinaw naman ng Malakanyang ngayong Martes, ang pagkakaroon ng face-to-face o physical classes in classroom ang tinutulan ng Pangulo at tuloy pa rin naman ang pagbubukas ng academic schoolyear 2020-2021 sa Agosto.

Kung mananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19 bandang Agosto, ipatutupad naman ng pamahalaan ang flexible blended learning sa lahat ng antas.

Kabilang sa paraang ito ang paggamit ng telebisyon at radyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga nasa liblib na lugar at hindi maaabot ng internet.

“Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal, at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, di po ibig sabihin na di na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na blended learning sangayon kay Sec. Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, ang radio at ang internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” ani Roque.

Suportado naman ni Duque ang mga plano ng Department of Education (DepEd) upang maseguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral.

Una nang sinabi ng DepEd na bukod sa pagsasagawa ng online classes, pinag-aaralan na rin nila sa ngayon ang iba’t ibang learning tools, work arrangement para sa mga guro at maging ang sistema ng assessment sa mga mag-aaral. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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