By Ellson Quismorio
Why not test the efficacy of the Wolbachia bacteria too in the local right against dengue fever?
Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor floated this idea Sunday as he called for a review of the unsuccessful National Dengue Prevention and Control Program.
“We understand that Malaysia has brought in the Wolbachia bacteria, which retards the dengue virus in the Aedes mosquito, and lessens the risk of the disease getting passed on to humans,” Defensor, House Committee on Health vice chairperson, said.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reported a total of 402,694 dengue cases from January 1 to November 16 this year, up by a whopping 92 percent from the 209,335 listed in the same period in 2018.
The number of deaths also went up by 40 percent from 1,075 in 2018 to 1,502 this year.
“We have to review the National Dengue Prevention and Control Program, which clearly has been unsuccessful in reducing the overall burden of the disease,” said Defensor, chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts.
When the program was last updated, the country had an annual average of only 185,008 dengue cases and 732 deaths over a five-year period, the former Malacañang chief of staff pointed out.
“It is very likely that mosquitos are breeding at alarming rates due to harsh climate change,” said Defensor, also one-time secretary of environment and natural resources.
A Georgetown University Medical Center study previously warned that “as many as a billion people could be newly exposed to disease-carrying mosquitoes by the end of the century because of global warming.”
Malaysia has been deploying new eggs of the Aedes Wolbachia in target areas to supplant some of the wild day-biting Aedes mosquito population carrying the dengue virus, in an aggressive bid to reduce human cases by 50 to 70 percent.
Like the Philippines, Malaysia is also dealing with a dengue surge.
Malaysia listed a total 118,416 dengue cases from January 1 to November 27, up by 70 percent, and 164 deaths, up by 39 percent.