succeeds in managing and controlling infectious diseases in 2015
By Leilani S.
MANILA, Dec. 20 (PNA) -- One of the notable accomplishments the
Department of Health (DOH) can best be remembered in 2015 is its success in
managing and controlling the possible spread of emerging and threatening
infectious diseases in the country.
“One notable accomplishment is the good monitoring system in the emerging
diseases… The Ebola virus disease was not able to penetrate in our country,”
said Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, DOH spokesperson, in an interview with the
Philippines News Agency.
He attributed the success of the government campaign to the implementation
of a number of measures in cooperation with other agencies like intensified
guarding of all ports of entry in the country and the cooperation of the
public as well as the media in helping spread the DOH messages on the
prevention of emerging diseases.
Dr. Lee-Suy noted that like in the 2003 campaign against the Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), local government units (LGus) were also
mobilized as the first line of defense in preventing the entry and spread of
Ebola virus in the Philippines.
Local governments are numerous and their reach is far and wide, making them
a big help in the Ebola preventive campaign, he said.
There are 81 provincial governments, 143 city governments, 1,494 municipal
governments and 42,026 barangay governments spread around the country.
The national government has devolved basic health services to the local
governments after the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991.
Another important factor employed by the DOH in preparing for the entry of
the feared Ebola virus was the conduct of training on how to handle and
manage infectious diseases among healthcare workers, LGUs representatives,
etc., so that they are prepared on what to do in case there is a need for
referral of possible cases.
As an important shield, the DOH also kept on reminding the public to
properly clean and wash their hands with soap and water and cover nose and
mouth with tissue or sleeves of their dress when they sneeze.
According to Dr. Lee-Suy, while it was true that the Middle East Respiratory
Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was able to enter the country, the case was
easily detected and controlled and did not come to a point wherein it was
able to spread in the community.
It maybe recalled that it was in the month of February this year wherein a
pregnant 32-year-old Filipina nurse was detected to be positive with
MERS-CoV after arriving from Saudi Arabia.
Prior to detection of her MERS-CoV infection, the patient previously sought
medical consultation in a medical specialty hospital in Laguna.
With suspicion that she has MERS-CoV, her case was referred promptly to the
Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
For proper control of possible spread of the disease, the family of the
Filipina nurse agreed to undergo quarantine and confirmatory testing.
He co-passengers in the airplane that flew her back to Manila were also
traced and monitored by the DOH surveillance and monitoring teams.
Those who had been suspected to have contact with her in the hospital
wherein she first sought treatment agreed for self-quarantine.
Disinfecting of the hospital premises and equipment was also done both by
the hospital staff and later on for the second time by the DOH and World
Health Organization (WHO) personnel.
Fortunately, all of those tested yielded negative results.
On the other hand, the Filipina nurse was properly taken care off until she
was given the go-signal to go home after her condition was thoroughly and
Dr. Lee-Suy said that unity, aggressiveness and vigilance of DOH teams and
partners had contributed a lot to limiting the presence of MERS-CoV in the
MERS-CoV is an illness similar to flu wherein the patient suffers fever
cough, cold and sneezing. It originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Dr. Lee-Suy said that DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin and other health
officials and even different partner agencies have been giving constant
public reminders that reporting by going to the nearest hospital is
important among those who experience such flu-like symptoms, especially if
they come from the Middle East peninsula.
They even encourage the public to come out if they have suspicion that they
have possible exposure with a MERS-CoV infected patient by calling the DOH
They also untiringly inform the public of the risk of developing MERS-CoV
that may result to health deterioration, especially among the senior
citizens suffering from diabetes and stroke.
In addition, they always stress the importance of filling up properly the
yellow form or "health declaration checklist" by arriving passengers so that
effective and easier surveillance and monitoring or contact-tracing can be
immediately done when needed.
Meanwhile, DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo has
actively initiated series of health summits so that the island provinces as
well as hotels accommodating foreign and local tourists in his region also
become aware on how they can help in controlling the infectious diseases.
MIMAROPA Region is composed of the island provinces of Mindoro
Occidental/Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. (PNA)