Medicine Cabinet


There were 67 deaths due to dengue in the country from January to February alone, according to the Department of Health (DoH). With this number, it is crucial to put spotlight on the Dengue Awareness Month, held every June to highlight the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration among the government, civil society, and private sector in the prevention and control of dengue.

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which are active during daytime.

Most people with dengue have mild or no symptoms and will get better in one to two weeks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If symptoms occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after infection and last for two to seven days. Symptoms may include high fever (40°C), a severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and a rash.

According to the WHO, it’s important for people who develop dengue to rest; drink plenty of liquids; take acetaminophen (paracetamol) for pain; avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin; and watch for severe symptoms and seek medical care as soon as possible if such symptoms develop.

In rare cases, dengue can be severe and lead to death, the WHO warns. Individuals who are infected for a second time are at greater risk of severe dengue. Severe dengue symptoms often come after the fever has gone away. These include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums or nose, fatigue, restlessness, blood in their vomit or stool, severe thirst, pale and cold skin, and feeling weak. People with these severe symptoms should seek emergency treatment at the nearest hospital immediately.

Studies have shown that in the past 50 years, the number of reported cases of dengue fever increased more than 30 times, with transmissions mainly occurring in tropical regions that have warm and wet climates.

In addition to rapid population growth and frequent national travel that accelerate dengue fever transmission, climate change is also a potential contributor to the increased incidence of dengue fever and its geographical expansion, as global warming could create more favorable environments for mosquito breeding and the spread of the disease, according to a Brazilian study published in 2021.

The results of a 2023 modeling study indicate that climate change is expected to increase the risk of dengue fever transmission in tropical areas of South and Southeast Asia. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions could be crucial in reducing the transmission of dengue fever in the future, the study concluded.

A local study published in 2015 found that the level of dengue virus isolated and detected in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in selected sites in Cebu City was higher during the dry season than in the wet season. On the other hand, the study showed that dengue transmission among people is higher during the wet season, most especially during the early months of the wet season.

A local study published in 2022 mirrors the findings of the 2021 Brazilian study, as it found that Aedes aegypti mosquito eggs survive longer in environments affected by global warming. In light of the study’s findings, the authors recommended that the DoH dengue prevention and control program, particularly the enhanced 4S strategy, be implemented year-round rather than just during the dengue epidemic wet season, with a particular focus in the Visayas and Mindanao.

4S stands for “Search and destroy” mosquito-breeding sites, employ “Self-protection measures” (i.e., wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and daily use of mosquito repellent), “Seek early consultation,” and “Support fogging/spraying” only in hotspot areas where increase in cases is registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.

The authors also recommend the reduction of breeding sites, covering of water storage containers, and hygiene and sanitation around households as constant components of a community-based, integrated approach, combined with educational programs to increase knowledge and understanding of best practices. They also recommend the installation of pipelines for the water supply system in rural highlands to decrease potential breeding sites.

For individuals and families, there are effective ways to prevent dengue and control the mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus. Wear clothes that cover as much of your body as possible. Install or repair window and door screens in your house. Apply mosquito repellents and use mosquito coils and vaporizers, when appropriate.

It is also recommended to dispose of solid waste properly and remove artificial man-made habitats that can hold water. Cover, empty, and clean domestic water storage containers weekly. And apply appropriate insecticides to outdoor water storage containers.


Teodoro B. Padilla is the executive director of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). PHAP represents the biopharmaceutical medicines and vaccines industry in the country. Its members are in the forefront of research and development efforts for COVID-19 and other diseases that  affect Filipinos.