Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Uniting Against Dengue Inaugural Dengue Summit Aims to Drive National Action

"We are up against a formidable foe that respects no boundaries or borders. The Aedes mosquito, a small yet formidable creature, carries the menacing threat of dengue fever - a ruthless disease that shows no mercy. The rising number of dengue cases serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for a unified front in the battle against this disease. While the road ahead may be long and challenging, together, we have the power to effect change." ~Dr. Hector M. Santos Jr., MD President of Philippine Medical Association

The inaugural of Dengue Summit, held at the Manila Diamond Hotel in Manila, Philippines, brought together health officials, politicians, researchers, and advocates from across the country.

The summit, organized by the Philippines Medical Association (PMA), the Philippines College of Physicians (PCP), and the Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc. (PPS), seeks to stimulate national action against dengue fever, an important public health problem.

With a firm commitment to achieve "Zero Dengue Death by 2030" in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 3, the Dengue Summit seeks to create revolutionary change through improved collaboration among key stakeholders. While current vector control methods have proven to be effective, the summit emphasized the importance of incorporating innovative interventions such as vaccination into a comprehensive dengue management framework, along with robust surveillance systems, improved healthcare infrastructure, and active community engagement, in order to decisively combat dengue in the Philippines.

In an unprecedented display of unity and determination, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and its 121 Component Societies, Specialty Divisions, Specialty, Subspecialty, and Affiliate Societies, along with the Philippine College of Physicians, the Philippine Pediatric Society, and private civil society partners, have united through a unified manifesto and collaborative actions. This collaborative initiative intends to emphasize the need of using modern technology, such as vaccination, in the fight against dengue.

The manifesto's collaborative initiatives are strategically designed to complement the government's existing efforts, creating a comprehensive approach to dengue prevention and control across the country. Furthermore, various corporate entities, notably Japanese corporations such as Takeda and Kao, have not only pledged their support for the event, but have also agreed to share their knowledge in pioneering novel technology.

Drs. Rontgene M. Solante and Lulu C. Bravo gave insightful presentations during the summit that were one of the highlights. They discussed how to combat vaccine hesitancy and advance immunization awareness in the Philippines by encouraging open communication from health authorities, interacting with the community through local leaders and influencers, providing accurate information to healthcare professionals, and putting the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to use.

The lectures by two speakers from Brazil and Indonesia, who discussed their countries' effective strategies for dengue prevention and control, were another memorable aspect of the conference.

Universitas Gadjah Mada pediatric consultant Dr. Eggi Arguni discussed Indonesia's novel use of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to stop dengue transmission. In addition, Dr. Arguni gave updates on the introduction of Takeda's latest dengue vaccine in Indonesia, highlighting the nation's advancements in dengue prevention initiatives.

Dr. Renato de Ávila Kfouri, President of the Department of Immunizations at the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, provided an overview of Brazil's national immunization program for dengue. Dr. Kfouri emphasized the importance of community engagement and public education campaigns in promoting vaccine acceptance across the country, stating that Brazil's proactive vaccination strategy against dengue serves as a cornerstone in its efforts to prevent the disease, having a significant impact on Brazil's overall health initiatives.

"The parallel between the weather trends and escalating dengue cases in Brazil and the Philippines serves as a cautionary tale about the potentially devastating impact of dengue fever in the Philippines. This comparison highlights the urgent need for immediate and innovative actions to address the rapidly growing threat of dengue disease in the country." ~Dr. Imelda M. Mateo, MD, President of Philippine College of Physicians

Brazil has exceeded its worst-case forecast for dengue cases this year, with a record of over 5 million infections. The increase is attributed to the effects of El Niño, which has caused higher temperatures and changes in wet and dry weather patterns, creating favorable conditions for mosquito breeding. As La Niña approaches, the Philippines is seeing an increase in dengue cases. According to Department of Health data, there was a significant increase in reported dengue infections compared to the previous year, with 59,267 cases from January 1 to May 4, surpassing the 45,722 instances reported during the same period in 2023.

"As pediatricians, we've witnessed the devastating impact of dengue, particularly on young children. The anguish experienced by parents and caregivers when their children fall ill is truly heart-wrenching. As we continue to confront dengue fever in the Philippines, embracing innovation such as vaccination will be pivotal in achieving sustainable control and its eventual elimination." ~Dr. Cesar M. Ong, MD, President of the Philippine Pediatric Society

As the summit concluded, stakeholders underlined the need of collaboration among governments, public health agencies, researchers, and communities in prioritizing research and the creation of new tools and initiatives. Investing in vector control technology, digital health solutions, and innovative tools such as next-generation dengue vaccines is critical for strengthening our defenses against dengue and lowering its impact on vulnerable populations.

The inaugural Dengue Summit, coordinated by the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Physicians, and Philippine Pediatric Society, is proudly sponsored by Takeda Healthcare Philippines, Inc. and managed by Rise Above Now Business Consulting Group.

No comments:

Post a Comment