Davao City

Dengue vaccine to save $8.2 billion

Posted on June 17, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- The Philippines is expected to save as much as $8.2 billion in economic costs every year with the commercial availability of a vaccine against the mosquito-borne dengue disease starting October.

At the 5th ASEAN Dengue Day observance held in the city last Monday, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager of the Department of Health’s (DoH) National Center for Disease Prevention-Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said the government spends “up to P350 million for dengue control every year and up to 80% of this is spent on the preventive aspect.”

In addition, Ching Santos, country manager of dengue vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Philippines, said the diagnosis and therapeutic costs are also high.

“The average cost of diagnosis per patient is $113, which is more than the average therapeutic management for dengue at $98,” said Ms. Santos, noting that these amounts include expenses for tests and treatment, hospitalization, productivity loss, funding for dengue-control measures, and public information drives.

Ms. Santos said Southeast Asian governments are spending nearly $1 billion every year on preventive measures as dengue continues to cause negative socioeconomic impact.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Philippines has the 7th highest number of dengue cases among 30 most highly endemic countries between 2004 and 2010, with 60% of the cases occurring during the rainy season from July to August.

For the period January to May this year, the DoH already recorded a 10% increase in dengue cases all over the country to 25,616 from 23,151 during the same period in 2014.

Health Undersecretary Vicente Y. Belizario, Jr. said the regions with the highest number of dengue cases are those with high population density and are highly urbanized, including the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Region 3 (Central Visayas), Region 7 (Central Visayas), and Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).

Mr. Belizario said Davao was chosen as the venue for this year’s ASEAN Dengue Day launch because of the city’s best practices and programs against the disease.

Ms. Santos said dengue has long been a major health problem within Southeast Asia and the spread of the disease is accelerating due to rapid urbanization.

The dengue vaccine will be made available commercially after 20 years of clinical studies. Ms. Santos said Sanofi Pasteur conducted three phases in studying the vaccine with over 40,000 volunteers. -- Carmencita A. Carillo