LEYTE (1st District) Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez yesterday called on every family to extensively participate in a house-to-house “search and destroy” mission against Zika, dengue and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Romualdez was joined by Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte in stressing the need to be vigilant following Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo’s confirmation that there are at least 12 cases of Zika virus infection in the Philippines.
“We have to encourage more families to participate in the search and destroy mission. The people should be more aggressive now,” said Romualdez, wife of former House independent bloc leader and ex-Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who is also president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
Villafuerte said the Zika virus has become a global health emergency that could possibly spark a fresh wave of fetal brain defects, especially in countries like the Philippines that do not have excellent health care systems.
He added Health Sec. Paulyn Ubial had said there is no need for the public to be alarmed yet despite the World Health Organization (WHO)’s inclusion of the Philippines under Category 2, as there is still no locally transmitted Zika virus infection in the country.
However, Villafuerte said “health authorities must not drop their guard and should continue intensifying measures -- in tandem with other concerned agencies -- to prevent the spread of this virus, which has already reached Singapore.”
“There should be stricter monitoring of incoming passengers at all air and sea ports, especially those coming from Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries,” Villafuerte said.
Romualdez stressed that public school classrooms should also be prioritized in the fight against the dreaded diseases caused by mosquitoes.
“Among the safety measures to fight the Zika virus is for households to clean up their premises and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed,” Romualdez said.
The virus was first discovered in South America. Since then, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been prodded to declare a public health emergency before the mosquito-borne virus becomes an “explosive pandemic.”
In Brazil, the epicenter of the problem, Zika has affected as many as 1.3 million people last March. One of the challenges of identifying the Zika virus is that the symptoms are mild. They include a fever, headache, rash and possible red eyes.
The bigger risk, however, is to unborn children. Zika is suspected to be linked to a huge increase in the incidence of a birth defect, microcephaly, that results in a smaller-than-normal head and an underdeveloped brain.
Earlier, Brazil reported more than 4,000 incidents of the defect in the months since Zika was first detected there.