Holistic approach to address dengue
We must take a more rational, holistic and participatory approach in addressing the dengue problem. A knee-jerk, reductionist and vested-interest-laden solution with Dengvaxia does not serve the Filipino people.
We could start with studying the role of climate change in the upsurge of dengue cases worldwide, and institute mitigating measures to manage climate change aggravation of vector-borne diseases like dengue. Resources spent on community-based participatory approaches in vector control might perhaps be more cost-effective and much less potentially dangerous than expensive vaccination programs.
Comprehensive measures to effectively address poverty and poor diet, the main factors that compromise the immune system and make people susceptible to severe dengue, especially the marginalized, must be earnestly pursued. Environmental toxins, pharmaceuticals and other factors that also compromise the immune system and the capacity of the people to withstand dengue infection must also be addressed. Alternative medicine approaches, including expanded research, in the management of dengue cases must be seriously conducted.
It is high time this Dengvaxia controversy, and for that matter issues regarding other vaccinations, be subjected to public scrutiny and oversight. The public has good reason to be alarmed. People’s trust in government health programs cannot be earned by hiding or obscuring the facts and insisting that “experts” alone can speak authoritatively on the issue. The people have good reason to resist government health programs that do not live up to their mandate of serving the people.
Only when health is in the hands of liberated and empowered citizens will public health programs be truly beneficial to the people.
ROMEO F. QUIJANO, MD
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
College of Medicine
University of the Philippines Manila
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