By John Noel E. Herrera
As cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and cholera in some areas in Western Visayas continue to increase, the Department of Health (DOH)-6 said vaccination against these food and water-borne diseases is not a priority yet.
DOH explained that despite the increase in cases, they are still focusing right now on vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
DOH regional director Dr. Adriano Suba-an also said that with high cases of AGE and cholera, particularly in Iloilo City, the health department is hoping to have a cholera vaccination program in the future.
“Hopefully we have that cholera vaccination program in the future. Sa ngayon kasi medyo hindi pa masyadong priority, maybe in the development area. What we are focusing on right now is the COVID-19 vaccination,” Suba-an said.
Suba-an also reminded all the local government units (LGUs) to activate their respective local health drinking quality monitoring committees to avoid additional cases and ensure that the water is potable.
“It should be functional sa LGU. This committee na tumitingin talaga kung ano ang kailangan sa munisipyo, kung ano ang gagawin. This is actually the committee that sits down and discuss ano ang problema tungkol sa tubig na iniinom at kung may problema, ano ang gagawin ng LGU. So we provided assistance on that,” Suba-an said.
Suba-an also said that the health department had already provided logistics for LGUs that needed assistance, like Iloilo City, which included Oral Rehydration Solutions, antibiotics, and fluids.
DOH-6 also provides technical support to local governments through its Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) as the regional office was the one that sent out for testing the collected specimens for cholera confirmation.
SITUATION IN ILOILO CITY
Iloilo City already recorded 30 cholera cases with no deaths, and 743 AGE cases with 14 deaths, as of Sept 30, 2022.
Data from Iloilo City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ICESU) indicated that out of 743 AGE cases, 27 are still active, while 702 have already recovered.
The city government is also set to start the rollout of vaccines against AGE and cholera after the city’s major water supplier, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW), in tandem with Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD), donated 1,000 doses of cholera vaccines to the city.
Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) medical officer IV Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna said that villages with clustering of AGE and cholera cases will be prioritized.
Fortuna added that the donated vaccines can be administered to individuals 1-year-old and above.
Aside from the donated vaccines, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas had also earlier expressed plans to purchase AGE and cholera vaccines.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has expressed that it is not yet a priority to buy cholera vaccines at this time.
“Madamo kita sakit nga gina-atubang, where’s cholera there? If we have to buy vaccines, pili-on ta gid kung ano ang maayo nga unahon,” Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said in a press conference.
Defensor also said that in case cholera vaccines become critically necessary, they will consult with the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) and the DOH on what’s the best action to do.
“There are other measures, indi amo na ka urgent ang vaccine if you have other measures to counter the disease, especially if the vaccines are expensive,” the governor added.
Data from IPHO indicated that Iloilo province has already recorded six cholera cases without deaths, and 82 AGE cases with six fatalities, as of Sept 29, 2022.
Data also showed that out of 82 AGE cases, only two remain active, while 74 have already recovered.
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson confirmed that the province has already recorded seven cholera cases, as of Sept 29.
Silay City logged five cases, while Victorias and EB Magalona towns recorded one case each.
Silay City Mayor Joedith Gallego has already declared a cholera outbreak in Guinhalaran where three cases were reported, including one fatality.
Lacson also emphasized to the local governments to check water sources, including water refilling stations.
“The numbers are considered small citywide, but if we don’t do anything about it, it can spread,” the governor said.