MANILA, Philippines?Feisty showbiz celebrity Kris Aquino is the health department?s newest poster girl in its efforts to swat away the deadly dengue fever that has stricken more than 50,000 Filipinos nationwide this year.
The Department of Health (DOH) has monitored a sharp upsurge of dengue cases and deaths in the country this year and the popularity of President Aquino?s sister, Kris, might just help the agency in its drive to curb the widespread phenomenon.
Health director and head executive assistant Yolando Oliveros said that Kris yesterday volunteered to be an anti-dengue advocate for free, an offer the health agency was unlikely to turn down.
?She could really be helpful to us in educating the public against dengue because she is the most sought-after endorser in the Philippines,? Oliveros told the Inquirer on the phone yesterday.
In a separate phone interview, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, head of the DOH?s emerging and re-emerging infections disease unit, said Kris was a ?perfect model for the advocacy? as a mother of two sons?Josh and Baby James?who suffered from the mosquito-borne disease last year.
?She expressed to help the department in advocating against dengue since she understands the feeling of parents with children sick with dengue,? added Oliveros.
The health agency has recorded a total 54,659 dengue cases in the last eight months through August?74.9 percent higher compared to the figures culled for the same period last year.
At least 429 deaths have also been monitored across the country, with Eastern Visayas registering the highest mortality incidents at 70?marking a 31 percent upsurge from last year?s figures.
Health records as of Aug. 14, showed that most of the dengue cases were from the following regions: Western Visayas with 7,680 incidents; Soccsksargen, 6,470; Calabarzon, 5,739; Eastern Visayas, 5,543; Metro Manila, 4,744; Davao, 4,658 and Northern Mindanao, 3,935.
Seventy-seven percent of the dengue patients, mostly male, ranged between one and 20 years old.
Lee Suy said the growing number of dengue incidents in the country can be attributed to the El Nińo phenomenon the country experienced in the first two quarters of the year and the recent onset of the rainy season.
The storage of water by Filipino households during the dry spell had virtually expanded the breeding sites of the dengue-carrier Aedes Aegypti mosquito, explained Lee Suy.
Oliveros also said that the increase in dengue-related incidents in the country can be traced to the four strains of the virus circulating in the country.
But despite the dengue outbreak, the agency saw no need to change its tack against the deadly virus, saying that cooperation from the public was a vital solution to the problem.
She said the health agency has intensified its information drive against dengue, with no less than Health Secretary Enrique Ona doing the rounds in villages and schools across the country.
Together with Aquino, Ona yesterday visited Rosa Susano Elementary School in Novaliches, Quezon City, to underscore the ?importance of correct information? in order to prevent the disease.
Self-protection, removal of breeding sites, early consultation with doctors and rejecting indiscriminate fogging were among the crucial measures every household must take to prevent dengue fever, stressed Oliveros.
Meanwhile, some Church officials have taken the initiative to lead their parishioners to a massive clean-up drive.
Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said over the Catholic Church?s Radio Veritas yesterday said that he has issued a circular, in cooperation with the local and provincial governments, moving parishioners to clean up their homes and backyards for two days, beginning Sept. 1.
A special and urgent prayer was also being recited in every parish church in the province after Mass to seek divine intervention against dengue, said Lagdameo.