ASEAN Dengue Day: The Philippines leads efforts in dengue control and prevention

On 15 June 2014 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) celebrates ASEAN dengue day to raise awareness of dengue, mobilize resources for its prevention and control, and demonstrate the region’s commitment to tackling this disease. This year the Philippines is leading efforts to promote ASEAN dengue day. The rainy months of July and August are cause for great concern in the Philippines because cases of dengue begin to peak during this time of year.

In the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, the risk of dengue was high due to the presence of extensive breeding areas in the typhoon debris. Today the risks have been lowered but the threat still remains. “There are still many high risk areas, especially in the junk yards where most of the debris from typhoon Yolanda were placed.” says Michael Garin, Sanitation Inspector and Dengue Coordinator in the region.

To mitigate the threat of dengue, the Philippine Department of Health with the support of the World Health Organization continues to conduct surveillance and monitoring in the region. In addition to this, the DOH has activated a “dengue warrior” system both within permanent and temporary housing communities to help lessen the threat of dengue in the areas hardest hit by the typhoon.

The dengue warrior brigades are selected members of the community who are mobilized to lead and conduct activities to combat dengue. Their responsibilities include monitoring suspected and confirmed cases of people with dengue in the community to track and prevent potential disease outbreaks, and identify and eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites. These dengue warriors from the community then report to the dengue warrior nurses who support surveillance teams in the region. This information is then given to the dengue coordinator in the area who identifies high risk areas and schedules routine activities such as fogging (the spraying of insecticide).

The WHO has supported the DOH in its dengue preparedness plan for the Yolanda affected region and continues to support the Department in monitoring and surveillance. With over two thousand cases of dengue reported in the country last year, the WHO continues to support the ASEAN community to raise awareness to prevent the spread of the virus across the region.