Doxycycline should be available at barangay-level to fight leptospirosis — solon
MANILA, Philippines — Doxycycline, an antibiotic drug used to treat ailments caused by bacteria and other parasitic diseases, should be made available at the barangay level to combat leptospirosis, a lawmaker said.
In a statement, Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin urged the Department of Health (DOH) to preposition doses of Doxycycline within evacuation centers so that this could immediately be administered after the onslaught of tropical cyclones.
Leptospirosis is a disease contracted by humans, usually due to wading through flood waters. The bacteria, which can be emitted by infected animals such as rats through their urine, can enter the human body through open wounds or entry points exposed to contaminated water.
“Leptospirosis is a preventable disease pero ang nangyayari sa atin huli na yung prophylaxis na para sana sa prevention (but what happens is that the prophylaxis, which would have been a preventive measure, comes in too late). Doxycycline, [for it] to be effective, should be initiated as soon as possible,” Garin, a physician who used to head DOH during the Aquino administration, said on Sunday.
“Yung oras ay mahalaga, makainom agad lalo na yung mga high risk individuals, pero ang naging problema ay naputol na ang communication lines, nasira ang tulay, may ginagawang clearing operations. Kaya paano mapick up ang gamot, matatagalan talaga. So nawala na yung importansya nito na para sana sa prevention,” she added.
(Time is critical; high-risk individuals should take medicine immediately but the problem is that after a cyclone, the treatment delivery is delayed by disrupted communication lines, damaged roads and bridges, and clearing operations. So the essence of the medicine as a preventive measure is lost.)
Garin noted that under the DOH’s “Interim Guidelines on the Prevention of Leptospirosis through the use of Prophylaxis in Areas Affected by Floods”, Doxycycline should be administered within 24 to 72 hours or within three days from the moment of exposure to flood.
Providing Doxycycline within th period would lessen patients’ chances of developing severe ailments due to leptospirosis.
However, the lawmaker noted that during the recent onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng, it took six days before Doxycycline reached her district in Iloilo province.
“We are proposing a more practical and responsive solution to the prevention of leptospirosis. We should target zero leptospirosis post flooding, hinahabol natin ang (we are going after) protection because leptospirosis easily reaches the irreversible stage. Prevention is still the best,” she noted.
READ: Paeng death toll climbs to 155 — NDRRMC
Last September, DOH asked people in areas affected by flooding due to Typhoon Karding to get prophylaxis or treatment to avoid leptospirosis. DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said this after data showed that the country had already recorded 1,770 leptospirosis cases from January 1 to August 27.
That’s 36 percent higher than the leptospirosis cases logged during the same period in 2021, which was at 1,229. Of the 1,770 leptospirosis cases, DOH said 244 patients died, for a fatality rate of 13.8 percent.
With reports from Irish Perez, INQUIRER.net trainee
DOH urges flood-affected residents to get treatment for leptospirosis
Leptospirosis: A scourge that comes with rains, floods
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.