Bukidnon gov defies stats; insists dengue cases have decreased

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 September) – Bukidnon Gov. Alex P. Calingasan refuted reports that dengue cases and deaths caused by the viral disease this year have increased to alarming levels.

He said the real story is how the many “unsung heroes” in the municipalities and barangays have responded to the outbreak of the disease in late May and June this year to arrest the problem.

“While we have not totally eradicated the problem, our response has resulted in the drastic decrease of dengue cases in Bukidnon,” Calingasan told MindaNews.

He said that all local government units in the province have implemented dengue prevention measures like house-to-house information drive, cleanup and destruction of mosquito breeding sites.

But data from the Provincial Health Office revealed that as of Sept. 21, there were 1,670 dengue cases resulting in 19 deaths in the province. These figures are way above the 299 cases and three deaths in 2009 and 108 cases and zero death in 2008.

With still three months more to go, this year’s number of cases represents a 558-percent increase over last year’s. The mortality rate so far is 633 percent higher than the 2009 figure.
As of August 13, 2010, the average increase in dengue cases in Northern Mindanao is 258 percent higher compared to last year’s. The region comprises the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Camiguin and the City of Cagayan de Oro.

Kalilangan in southern Bukidnon has reported the highest number of cases in Northern Mindanao.

Calingasan also refuted claims that the public hospitals in Bukidnon have little capability in treating severe cases of dengue resulting in a huge number of patient referrals to Cagayan de Oro.
“There is no truth to that, in fact, there is no single case of referral to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro from the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Malaybalay City,” Calingasan said.

The cases referred to Cagayan de Oro are those coming from northern Bukidnon like the municipalities of Manolo Fortich, Malitbog, Libona, Baungon and Talakag since these areas are geographically accessible to the regional capital, he explained.

The governor said that the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital, a tertiary hospital, can adequately treat even severe cases of dengue. He said it is equipped with an intensive care unit (ICU) and a platelet separator.

“And our doctors are well-trained,” he added.

Calingasan, however, said that he cannot speak for the private hospitals on the issue of referring severe dengue cases to Cagayan de Oro.

A private pediatrician who asked not to be named admitted that they have referred to Cagayan de Oro City several cases of dengue as the ICU of the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center which has five beds “is always filled with cardiovascular cases.”

State of calamity

Calingasan said that despite the number of cases, they did not deem it necessary to declare a state of calamity which would have mobilized the 5-percent calamity fund of the province.

Asked what they would do in case of another outbreak in the future, Calingasan said that the province’s public health system is ready to respond to the dengue menace.

He, however, admitted that Vice Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. had at one time suggested placing Bukidnon under a state of calamity but was prevailed upon when the problem was reportedly put under control.

The vice governor was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who hails from the province, told MindaNews he had personally talked with DOH Sec. Ona on Monday to give more attention to the dengue problem in Bukidnon.

Earlier, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III pledged to help improve the capacity of the public health system of Bukidnon to treat dengue fever.

Bukidnon 2nd District Representative Florencio Flores Jr, also pledged to help upgrade the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center here to better respond to dengue cases.

Dengue is a vector-borne viral disease that is spread by the day-feeding mosquito Aedis aegypti.

Experts have correlated the increase of vector-borne diseases to climate change and other environment issues. Vectors, usually insects, are carriers of viruses, bacteria and worms. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)