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Binay to DOH: End Japanese encephalitis crisis

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Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to quell the Japanese encephalitis (JE) crisis which has claimed the lives of nine people in the country amid reports of vaccine shortage and overpricing.

“While this number might not be alarming to the DOH, it has caused many parents to worry over their children’s susceptibility to the disease. I urge the DOH to look into quelling the public’s fears through a comprehensive information campaign,” she said.

“Dapat maagapan ito ng DOH bago pa man magkagulo lalo ang ating mga kababayan. Sa Laguna na lamang kung saan mayroon nang namatay dahil sa sakit na ito ay may report na nagkakaubusan na ang stocks ng bakuna, dahilan para magpanic ang ilan sa ating mga kababayan,” Binay added.

JE, a viral disease spread by the Culex mosquito from pigs and waterbirds, targets the nervous system, causing high fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation, paralysis, seizures, coma and even death.

It has no known cure and most survivors, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), experience physical, learning and behavioral disabilities, cognitive and language problems.

Reports said that the stocks of JE vaccine are running low due to the sudden rise in demand from the public and caused many to look for alternative sources, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning against buying JE vaccines which are of questionable quality and may even pose health risks.

“If it is not recommended for the vaccines to be administered during this time, the DOH must intensify its efforts to spread this information to the public because, while there are efforts to do this, many are still looking for other ways to procure the vaccines despite warnings against doing so,” Binay said.

The senator made the call as public clamor for vaccines against mounted, prompting the DOH to issue warnings against purchasing vaccines from unknown sources as well as administering it during the rainy season when it is said to be less effective.

“Health is a sensitive issue and must be treated with care. The DOH must remember this in its efforts to address the issues surrounding Japanese encephalitis,” Binay said.