Press Release
August 1, 2022

To stem monkeypox before it becomes another pandemic
...wants DOH to assign special units in hospitals, raise info campaign

"For the past years, we've seen the glaring gaps in our Covid pandemic response. This time, we hope the DOH and the DILG are better prepared to handle monkeypox for us to contain future outbreak possibilities."

This was the reaction of Sen. Nancy Binay as she asked the Department of Health to heighten its readiness and response capabilities to further prevent the undetected transmission of the monkeypox virus.

The senator likewise urged the Department of Interior and Local Government to reactivate emergency hotlines, and revisit local-level coordination with LGUs in terms of surveillance and border control to ensure that transmission of the virus can be immediately be contained.

"Naririyan na yung framework na ginamit natin during the height of the Covid pandemic. We can fuse the 3T strategy (tracing, testing, treatment) on Covid with DOH's current 4-door strategy (prevention, detection, isolation, treatment) versus monkeypox," Binay pointed out.

According to her, both the DOH and the DILG must embark on an educational campaign and impose surveillance and border control measures amid the back-to-back threat of Covid-19 and the monkeypox virus.

"Given our low Covid-19 vaccination rate in highly-vulnerable provinces, plus the slow uptake for booster shots, the monkeypox threat adds up to our Covid pandemic response. Dahil na rin sa pandemic fatigue, medyo nag-relax na tayo sa border control. Sadly, napakakulang at mahina pa rin ang ating contact tracing capability at both local and national levels. I just hope the DOH and DILG can kickstart or scale up contract tracing now that monkeypox and Covid are likely to put a strain on our already overstretched pandemic response program," Binay added.

According to Binay, the DOH should likewise raise an information campaign on how to prevent acquiring or spreading the virus in compliance with the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization, with emphasis on the application of preventive measures since monkeypox is a public health emergency.

"There are no home-test kits for monkeypox, but RITM is now equipped to detect the virus. And again, sana ma-optimize natin ang response capabilities ng hospitals and our health workers by assigning more special units to handle monkeypox cases, and strengthening the clinical management, coordination, treatment, vaccination capacity at iba pang kailangan necessary to prevent the virus from spreading. Guidance should also be given to LGUs since contact tracing is an essential public health tool that can help contain the virus," Binay said.

The WHO noted that monkeypox--a rare disease caused by an orthopox virus--is not necessarily a serious threat but has spread rapidly around the world due to new transmission routes.

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