DOST, DOH agreed to mitigate dengue

Signing of Memorandum of Understanding of DOST and DOH Secretaries Mario G. Montejo and Enrique T. Ona respectively.  Witnessed by (standing from left) Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD executive director; Dr. Nuna Almanzor, DOST-Industrial Technology and Development Institute director; Dr. Lillian de las Llagas, inventor and UP professor Parasitology and Entomology; Dr. Eduardo Janairo, director IV-NCDPC-DOH

by Juliet Z. Cruz

Mosquito OL Trap System
THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) endorsed the nationwide roll-out of the mosquito ovicidal/larvicidal (OL) trap system that seeks to drastically reduce cases and fatalities of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said that this OL trap system is a low-cost yet effective device to prevent and control the deadly dengue disease. When commercialize this OL trap system will cost around Php12 per set which is very affordable. 

 The DOST will initially provide 700,000 OL trap kits for free to 125,000 selected households nationwide, especially in areas with high dengue risks. In time for the rainy seasons, each recipient household will receive four sets of kits and organic pellets for six months starting July to December this year. Meanwhile, the DOH will assist in the identification of high dengue sites, assist in the distribution of the traps and conduct studies to check the efficacy of the trap system. 

The OL trap system consists of a black container (about the size of a drinking glass or 250 ml); a small strip of lawanit (a paneling material made from coconut husk) measuring 1 inch by 5 inches for mosquitoes to lay their eggs on; and organic plant-based pellets, toll packed in 0.3g (with water will make a larvicidal solution that will kill the dengue-carrying mosquitoes eggs and larva which will hatch in the strip of wood and in the solution). 

This is designed to attract female mosquitoes to lay its eggs on the trap. The black container and the “lawanit” board inside the trap bait the female mosquitoes. As a result, this will prevent the multiplication of mosquitoes to reaching adulthood and spreading the dengue virus. This is the key mitigating health solution promoted by the two government agencies.

DOST and DOH have already distributed OL mosquito traps to the high risk areas in Leyte and Cagayan Valley. Laboratory and field tests showed that it can kill 450 to 490 out of 500 eggs placed in the OL trap system or about 98% success rate, Dr. Nuna Almanzor, DOST-ITDI director said. Her bureau is responsible in the mass production of the pellets and she said that private investors may inquire to participate in this endeavor.

Dr. Lillian de las Llagas and Dr. Nuna Almanzor in a presscon

Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona in his message said that in 2010 the Philippines experienced the worst outbreak of dengue in 10 years. More than 135,355 cases were recorded exceeding the record high infection rates in 1998 when other countries in the Southeast Asian region also accounted major dengue outburst.

Ona said that the government must double its efforts in fighting against dengue which has now become “the world’s most important viral vector-borne disease” and the country’s most disturbing health concern among all re-emerging infectious diseases because of climate change, rapid urbanization, and international travel.

He said, this year, more than 13,281 dengue cases admitted in sentinel hospitals which are actually 7.71% lower than the same period of 2010.

In DOH’s Disease Surveillance Report, most of the cases were from the following regions: National Capital Region (29.6%), Region IV-A (17.8%) and Region III (17.7%). Ages of cases ranged from less than 1 month to 85 years old. Majority of cases were male (54%). Seventy-six percent of cases belonged to the 1 to 20 years age group. The case fatality ratios (CFR) greater than 1 were noted in the less than 1 and 1 to 10 years age groups. There was 89 deaths (CFR 0.60%) reported. Reported cases with CFR greater than 1 came from Regions I, V, VI, VII and ARMM.  From wikipedia, in epidemiology, case fatality (CF) or fatality rate, is the ratio of deaths within a designated population of people with a particular condition, over a certain period of time. 

Dr. delas Llagas, the inventor

Dr. Lilian de las Llagas, OL trap inventor and mosquito expert from the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) explained the life cycle of the dengue-carrying Aedes mosquitoes and the process of baiting.

The female mosquito has three major chores: To mate with the male mosquito, sip blood of human victim and lay eggs. In one of Llagas’ lectures, she said that the female mosquito starts to hunt human victim to supply her blood meal from sunrise to sunset (after mating with male mosquito). She warned that among the favorites of mosquitoes are human who are smelly and wet with sweat, but this does not mean that mosquitoes are selective. No one is exempted from mosquito bites. A mosquito needs to bite at least three human victims in order to complete her blood meal. From this cycle, this leads to virus transmission - as mosquito bites, it transfers the virus. This OL trap system prevents the population of Aedes mosquitoes.

Moreover, Montejo said that the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with the DOH secretary would also institutionalize a national telehealth service program, which would be part of the government strategy to address universal health care using information and communication technology in delivering health care especially to remote and undeserved areas. 

This Philippine National Telehealth Service Program according to Montejo was a collaboration with the University of the Philippines, which has generated a triage system for delivering telehealth services and a medical device (RxBox) for remote diagnosis.

Montejo continued that this DOST-DOH pact is one of the series of science community cooperation to providing science-based solutions to healthcare.

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