P6M dengue budget proposed before surge of cases in Bukidnon

VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/16 Nov) – The chair of the Department of Health’s mosquito-borne disease program in Bukidnon, proposed in 2009 the inclusion in the provincial budget of at least P6 million for dengue prevention and control but claimed it was disapproved.

She said they reflected it in the Provincial Integrated Plan for Health (PIHP), which she helped prepare as a member of the initial team of the technical working group for dengue control.

Dr. Josephine Ibalio said a technical working group should be set up to include the provincial board’s chair of the committee on health, so it will have a bigger voice in the provincial government.

Ibalio said the initial TWG was composed only of a reperesentative from the DOH Bukidnon mosquito-borne diseases program and another from the Provincial Health Office.

The budget was supposed to be used to buy platelet separators, clinical refrigerators, and other equipment for blood banking, and for information and education campaign. Municipal health officers also recommended the purchase of an ambulance and fogging machines for rural health units.

Dr. Janet Molina, a private practitioner in Bukidnon, lamented in an open letter posted on Facebook in September, the lack of capability of the public hospitals in Bukidnon to treat dengue patients.

She cited the lack of platelet separators among others as the reason why many patients have to be brought to Cagayan de Oro, some 90 minutes travel from Malaybalay City.

Molina had asked why there was reluctance on the part of the provincial government to declare a state of calamity given the high dengue incidence in the province.

Ibalio reported to the media that dengue claimed the lives of 32 persons in the province and infected a total of 1,397 confirmed cases from January to September this year.

Ibalio told MindaNews the provincial government must have a budget for dengue, at least a supplemental one, so it is ready to act in case an outbreak occurs. She said it is not practical to rely on calamity funds.

“I disagree about preparing a budget for dengue on the need-basis only or as an emergency (recourse). It will come too late (for the needed action),” Ibalio told reporters in a briefing organized by the Provincial Health Office Friday.

She cited the experience this year when calls for a declaration of a state of calamity took long and the resolution came only when the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) had ruled that the number of cases had dropped.

“One lesson from this years’ experience is to declare the state of calamity right away (when the cases ) like in July (2010),” she added. Bukidnon did not declare a state of calamity this year following a check on the dengue cases statistics. The Provincial Health Office admitted many of the cases counted were only “suspected” and not confirmed of dengue infection.

She said they included a P6-million proposed budget in the Provincial Integrated Plan for Health. But it was disapproved.

Ibalio said they will still push for the fund to be included in the 2011 budget. She said the items included in the dengue budget came from recommendations passed by the municipal health officers all over the province, including a standby ambulance and stand-by fogging machines for the rural health units.

She noted that the dengue budget is important so that the province would be prepared for a possible increase of dengue cases in 2011. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)