Bukidnon legislators’ help sought to fight dengue

MALAYBALAY CITY  (MindaNews/16 Sept) -– Bukidnon-based surgeon Dr. Janet Molina wrote an open letter to senators and members of the House of Representatives from Bukidnon to use their offices to cause concrete measures to address the high volume of dengue cases in the province.

Molina, with a copy of the letter posted on Facebook, wrote to Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Teofisto Guingona III and Representatives Emmanuel Paras, Florencio Flores, and Jose Ma. Zubiri III.

She suggested that the legislators should facilitate so the Department of Health would send their doctors to train and impart their skills and knowledge to the staff of hospitals in Bukidnon.

Citing DOH records, the Provincial Health Office noted that as of September 9, Bukidnon has 1,238 dengue cases this year with 13 reported deaths. Last year, Bukidnon only has 130 cases and no deaths.

Molina said the DOH must set up dengue wards and intensive care units (ICUs) and should stay for a month or two to upgrade the skills of the staff so they will be ready in case another dengue outbreak strikes.

She suggested that the DOH, upon the intervention of the legislators, will provide the necessary equipment needed to form an ICU or ward such as platelet extractor and ventilators.

Molina urged for the hiring of more medical personnel such as medical technologists and nurses.

She said the health department is promoting preventive measures but “what the DOH is promoting is not the solution to our problem in the Province of Bukidnon.”

“As all of you are from Bukidnon, you know that keeping our environment clean is not the solution. We are surrounded by banana plantations, corn, rice paddies. I don’t need to elaborate. Most of our people are living within the farm and it is their children’s playground. With that in mind, how can we eradicate the mosquitoes that bear the dengue virus?” Molina said in her letter.

Molina said this year’s cases of dengue, which plagued both rich and poor patients, have increased almost tenfold compared to last year’s.

She cited her contact with other practicing physicians in this province who assert that the picture of dengue patients in terms of clinical presentation has changed over the past years.

Today, she said, patients easily go into shock without bleeding. They present with carditis, pleural effusion and renal failure.

“Although most of the physicians practicing in this province are trained and has been in practice for many years, we are not prepared to handle complicated dengue patients,” she added.

What the doctors and hospitals have been doing during the months of June to August, she said, was to refer dengue patients to private hospitals in Cagayan de Oro.

“Some go to the Northern Mindanao Regional Hospital and die at the emergency room because they were not immediately attended to because of patient bulk,” she said.

Bukidnon’s provincial hospitals and even private hospitals, she said, are not equipped to handle cases.

“We lacked ventilator, dialysis unit, intensive care unit and even manpower,” she added.

Molina said sending the patients to Cagayan de Oro, at least 90 kilometers from Malaybalay, means money.

“We all know that most of our farmers here live in hand-to-mouth existence. How can they pay the hospital bills which will amount to P200,000 to P300,000?” she stressed.

She said families of dengue patients were forces to sell farmlands, houses and live stocks, if any.

“For me, this is very tragic because we have hospitals, doctors, nurses and medical technologists…. Instead of helping our people, we are taking from them their lands and homes,” Molina said.

As of September 15, Senator Zubiri’s wife, Audrey, wrote to respond to the surgeon’s open letter.

“Thank you for your letter. I am glad that someone brought it to our attention. We will contact our friends in the DOH (a.s.a.p.) to find a workable solution to this very urgent problem,” Zubiri said in her email response.

In Molina’s response, she noted that Bukidnon has so much powerful elected officials.

“We have such powerful people from this province, yet people felt abandoned during those months of June to August, the height of dengue cases,” she added.

She said she wrote to Sen. Pia Cayetano and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Maranon, chair of the health committees of the Senate and the House, respectively. But her letter was ignored. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)