FOGGING. A fogging activity in Guindapunan village in Palo, Leyte to kill adult mosquitoes. The Department of Health told local officials to search and destroy mosquito breeding places and not just conduct fogging to combat dengue. (Photo courtesy of Palo municipal health office)

TACLOBAN CITY -- The consistent increase in the number of dengue victims in Eastern Visayas has alarmed the Department of Health (DOH), as more seriously ill patients overcrowded state-run hospitals in the past few weeks.

In a press conference, DOH Regional Director Minerva Molon on Tuesday called on government health facilities to utilize every space to accommodate patients with severe dengue fever.

“The number of patients at the EVRMC (Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center) has increased significantly as more children suffer dengue fever. The hospital has been admitting 20 to 30 new dengue patients daily,” Molon said.

EVRMC, the region’s end referral hospital with a bed capacity of only 500, presently serves up to 1,000 patients due to the surge of dengue cases.

“Our hospital is very congested. For those victims that are not admissible, we advise them to get treatment from rural health units or undergo home-based treatment,” Molon said.

Death toll from dengue fever in Eastern Visayas region rose to 24 this week with 6,327 others hospitalized from January 1 to July 19 this year, which is more than twice that of the same period last year, the Department of Health (DOH) in the region said.

There is no dengue outbreak in Eastern Visayas, but the region has been included in the national dengue alert as clustering of cases has been reported in several villages.

Of the 21 dengue deaths, four were recorded in Tacloban City, four in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, and two in Burauen, Leyte.

Each of the following areas reported at least one death from January 1 up to July 19 -- Quinapondan, General MacArthur, and Hernani in Eastern Samar; Baybay City, Babatngon, Mahaplag, Merida, and Ormoc City in Leyte; Sogod and Macrohon in Southern Leyte; Kawayan in Biliran; and Calbayog City and Catbalogan City in Samar province.

Of the over 6,300 dengue cases, 408 were reported in Biliran; 609 in Eastern Samar; 1,998 in Leyte; 563 in Northern Samar; 272 in Southern Leyte; 876 in Samar; 384 in Calbayog City; 233 in Catbalogan City; 41 in Maasin City; 169 in Ormoc City; 465 in Tacloban City; 171 in Baybay City; and 126 in Borongan City.

Molon asked city and town mayors to organize clean-up campaigns focusing on the destruction of mosquito breeding places in their areas, and conduct community assembly in areas with dengue cases.

Leonido Olobia, DOH Eastern Visayas dengue program manager, said the DOH has launched several strategies to combat the deadly mosquito-borne disease.

Among these are strengthened linkages with schools for the conduct of daily clean-up drive in campuses, dengue prevention lectures among poor families by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), provide logistics in areas with high dengue cases, and organize a mayor’s forum to conduct massive cleanup.

“We have been meeting with agencies under health cluster of the Regional Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council every Friday to integrate our actions in fighting dengue fever,” Olobia said.

The cluster is composed of DOH, Department of Education, DSWD, Office of the Civil Defense, and Department of the Interior and Local Government. The Philippine National Police also volunteered to join the meeting even if they are not part of the cluster.

The health department reiterated the DOH’s “4S” to fight dengue as an effective strategy to prevent cases and deaths.

These “4S” strategies are the search and destroy mosquito breeding places, seek early consultation, self-protection method, and support fogging/spraying only in hot spot areas where an increase in cases is registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.

Dengue fever is marked by an onset of sudden high fever, severe headache, and pain behind the eyes, muscles, and joints. Some may develop rashes and varying degrees of bleeding in different parts of the body. (PNA)