MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 September) – Dr. Dante Douglas Belderol, a physician at the Malaybalay City Health Office, is proposing some clever methods of fighting the mosquito-borne viral disease dengue.
Belderol, the dengue point person of the Rural Health Unit, said one way is to put up “official” breeding areas to attract the mosquitoes and then destroy their eggs before they hatch.
He said this inexpensive method is being used in some neighboring countries like Singapore but has never been tried in the country.
He said they will still formalize the proposal but they are desperate to find new ways to stop dengue which has victimized 251 people here from January to July 2010.
Most of the patients were children, five of whom died.
The data on the number of patients were based on figures provided by local hospitals to the city health office and excluded victims coming from Malaybalay but were admitted in hospitals in other cities.
Belderol confirmed that dengue patients suffering from hemorrhagic shock and needing blood transfusion were referred to hospitals in Cagayan de Oro City because Bukidnon hospitals lacked a plasma separator needed in the procedure.
This and other problems were contained in an open letter written by Dr. Janet Molina, a local surgeon who expressed concern about the financial toll dengue has caused on both rich and poor families in the province.
She wrote an open letter to senators and Bukidnon congressmen to use their offices to undertake concrete measures to address the high number of dengue cases in the province.
Molina, whose letter was 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 in sending doctors from the Department of Health who would 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 had 1,238 dengue cases with 13 reported deaths. Last year, Bukidnon only had 130 cases and no deaths.
Molina said the DOH must set up dengue wards and intensive care units and should stay for a month or two to upgrade the skills of the staff to prepare them in case another dengue outbreak strikes.
She suggested that the DOH, upon the intervention of the legislators, should provide the necessary equipment needed to form an ICU or ward such as platelet extractor and ventilators.
She 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.”
What the doctors and hospitals did during the months of June to August, Molina 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, some 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 forced to sell farmlands, houses and livestock, 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. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)