MANILA — Government on Tuesday declared a national dengue epidemic amid the rising cases of the mosquito-borne disease in parts of the country.
In a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the declaration was needed to speed up response.
"It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these areas to identify where a localized response is needed and to enable the local government units to use their quick response fund to address the epidemic situation," Duque said.
The declaration was made following a meeting among officials including Duque and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, said he has issued a memorandum circular urging all agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to support efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) against dengue.
"Lahat nung mga member ng NDRRMC na agencies (All member agencies of the NDRRMC) will now support the efforts of the DOH to stop this epidemic, eliminate this epidemic," said Lorenzana, who is also the NDRRMC chairperson.
Lorenzana explained that the government has yet to declare a "national emergency or state of calamity" because the disease is only affecting select areas.
"May mga areas na malaki, mas malaki ang tama, may mga maliliit (There are areas that are worse affected, others not so much). It's up to the provinces [and] towns to declare their own state of calamity," he said.
Duque added that starting Tuesday, the DOH will coordinate with other government agencies, local government units, schools, and offices to look for and destroy mosquito-breeding sites.
As of July 20 this year, the DOH recorded 146,062 cases of dengue, with 622 deaths. The figure is double from the 73,818 cases recorded during the same period last year.
Western Visayas had the most number of cases at 23,330, followed by Calabarzon with 16,515 cases; Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317 cases; Northern Mindanao with 11,455 cases; and SOCCSKSARGEN with 11,083 cases.
The seven regions that have exceeded the epidemic threshold, according to the DOH, include Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol region, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninisula and Northern Mindanao.
The regions that have exceeded the alert threshold are Ilocos region, Central Visayas and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
-- With a report from Raphael Bosano and Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News