By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY — After ending its measles vaccination campaign, the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas is turning its attention on the rising number of dengue cases.
In a weekly media forum, DOH regional medical officer Dr. Ronald Jarvik Buscato said the rise in dengue cases in the region for the period from January 1 to March 30 was alarming.
There were 6,097 cases reported and 37 deaths, 245 percent higher than the figures last year of 1,768 cases and 12 deaths, Buscato said.
“Central Visayas is already number 1 in dengue cases in the country for this year which we can already described it as an epidemic. The last dengue epidemic year in the country was in 2016 with Central Visayas as No. 1 with more than 27,000 cases and 204 deaths,” he said.
In 2018, Bohol ranked fifth for dengue cases and deaths. Buscato said the rise was brought about by the tourism boom.
He noted that there were increases in the number of dengue-carrier mosquitoes in Bohol during the peak of its tourism boom and there were more cases of dengue among tourists.
Based on DOH’s comparative analysis, dengue cases usually increase every two years. Buscato said the five-year average number of cases is 10 percent higher than is recommended to declare an epidemic.
“There is a need to further study the cause and effect of tourism and health to validate the increase of dengue cases in tourism areas,” Buscato said.
Turning to measles, Buscato said that from Jan. 1 to April 3, the cases totaled 1,304, with 876 from Cebu, 267 from Negros Oriental, 147 from Bohol and 14 from Siquijor.
“Based on our 2019 priority target of over 244,000 people for measles vaccination, we already vaccinated 69.49 percent or 169,619 of the priority targets that include children 6 to 59 months old, and so now we are refocusing our health priority to dengue that is almost reaching its epidemic stage,” Buscato said.