Sarangani intensifies fight against dengue fever

The Department of Health continues to use fumigation of surroundings and buildings to control the spread of dengue. MindaNews file photo

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) – Health authorities in Sarangani province have enhanced their detection and surveillance system to ensure a faster response to suspected cases of the deadly dengue fever.

Federico Yadao, medical technologist of the Sarangani Provincial Health Office (PHO), said Monday they adopted the “SarDengue 123” strategy, which sets a three-day intervention for dengue cases in local communities.

The first day is for the surveillance of the identified case, investigation and analysis of data on the second day, and adoption of appropriate action on the third day, he said.

Yadao said the recorded dengue cases in the province are still lower when compared to last year, but said they are going “deeper on the ground” to prevent possible outbreaks.

As of morbidity week 20 or from January 1 to May 22, a total of 371 dengue cases and one fatality were reported in the province’s seven municipalities, about 21.4% lower than the 472 cases in 2021.

“We can’t be complacent with the situation since 2022 is considered an epidemic year (for dengue) based on the trend, which happens every two to three years,” he said in a statement.

The province recorded a surge of dengue infections in 2019, reaching over 2,000 cases and 13 deaths.

As part of their interventions, he said they also deployed contact-tracing teams and adopted the tracking system utilized for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to fast track the tracing and ensure proper response for dengue cases.

Sarangani had trained and deployed at least eight contact-tracing teams in each of its seven municipalities “as a proactive approach” to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Each team is composed of a representative from the Philippine National Police, a nurse, an encoder, a barangay health emergency response team, and peacekeeping volunteers.

It created a database that allowed the encoding of contact-tracing information into an open data kit or ODK system, an open-source tool that allows data collection using Android mobile devices and their submission to an online server.

Yadao said they saw that the expertise of the contact tracers can be utilized for other diseases while COVID-19 cases in the province are still down.

The PHO, in coordination with the municipal health offices (MHO), has also clustered barangays in the province that have one or more dengue cases in two succeeding weeks.

Yadao said the move is aimed to immediately capture the infections at the field level and prevent local hospitals from getting overwhelmed with admissions.

The PHO and MHO teams have distributed Olyset curtains treated with chemicals against dengue-carrying mosquitoes to communities and started spraying or fogging activities in local schools, he said.

“Based on the entomological survey of dengue vectors, most of the cases primarily come from schools,” Yadao said.

Records showed that most of the recorded dengue cases in the province are among the school-age children and adults, specifically from 10 to 22 years old, he added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)