MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 September) – An open letter to Bukidnon legislators published in a social networking site about the intensity of the dengue fever problem in the province has elicited reactions and may have exposed a latent political tension in this rich agricultural province.
Dr. Janet Q. Molina, in an open letter posted in Facebook, lamented the lack of capability of the public hospitals in Bukidnon to treat dengue patients. So far, the disease has claimed 19 lives and infected at least 1,500 people in the province.
Molina had asked why there is reluctance on the part of the provincial government to declare a state of calamity given the high dengue incidence in the province.
In response to Molina, the office of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the upgrading of the capability of the public hospitals in Bukidnon to treat dengue fever is already integrated in his health program.
Guingona also promised to work for a long-term solution “so that dengue patients need not go to CDO (Cagayan de Oro City) for intensive care treatment.”
Guingona is a former representative of Bukidnon’s 2nd District.
A staffer at Guingona’s office said they are digging deeper into the reasons why the provincial government, with the technical assistance of the Department of Health, has not declared a state of calamity because of dengue.
The DOH in Northern Mindanao has so far recorded a 230-percent increase in dengue incidence and at least 50 deaths this year.
Bukidnon is one of the provinces hardest hit by the disease.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri meanwhile came to the defense of local government units which he said “have already acted upon this problem with haste”.
“As a matter of fact the cases have gone down dramatically since last month and I think it’s quite unfair that these local governments have been getting attacked in the internet these past few weeks without a quick check on the facts. I’m sure they will defend themselves in the coming days, but first I’d like to share with you a few things. There have been close to 80,000 cases of Dengue in the country, and we had about 1500, so it’s not just Bukidnon that has taken a hit,” Zubiri said.
The senator is a former representative of Bukidnon’s 3rd District.
Rep. Florencio Flores Jr. (2nd district) on the other hand said he has already earmarked “a portion of my budget for next year to upgrade the facilities of the Bukidnon Medical Center in Malaybalay City by purchasing equipment like the pediatric ventilator and/or an additional platelet separator and maybe for the training of medical personnel for the purpose.”
Flores is a medical doctor by profession and a former mayor of the city.
Dengue fever is a vector-borne disease which is transmitted by the day-feeding mosquito Aedis aegytpi. Vectors, usually insects or arthropods transmit bacteria, viruses and worms when biting their prey.
Experts have correlated increase in vector-borne diseases to climate change and other environment issues. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)