DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) Davao Region confirmed on Tuesday that a four-year old child died last Friday (Aug 30) due to Meningococcemia.
The Brokenshire Memorial Hospital earlier said that the patient’s case was suspicious after showing signs and symptoms similar with the said disease.
Last weekend, they revealed that collected specimen from the patient was still sent out for confirmation.
The DOH Davao Center for Health and Development in a statement said they are ‘continuously coordinating’ with concerned individuals for the profile of the deceased patient.
The agency is seeking information on the places the child has visited and people he was in close contact with.
“Thorough surveillance, monitoring and follow-up to the people who may have come into close physical contact are being monitored and will be monitored for ten days after their last exposure to the infected person,” the DOH said.
Although, the DOH clarified that none of the individuals who had contact with the patient had manifested any signs or symptoms similar to the case definition of Meningococcemia.
Family members, pupils from the pre-school where the deceased child was studying, teachers, as well as emergency room staff who closely attended the patient, were all immediately treatment with post-exposure prophylaxis.
The DOH also spoke with the teachers and parents of other children of the said pre-school to allay their fears of the disease.
How is the disease transmitted?
Dr. Annabelle Yumang, DOH regional director reiterated to public that the bacteria causing the meningococcal disease “is not easily transmitted”.
To be considered at risk, the health official cited, that there has to be a direct contact with discharges from the nose and throat of the infected person.
It can also spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing of food, drink, and utensils.
“Educating the public is one way to prevent the spread of meningococcemia,” DOH said.
The rumor of suspected meningococcemia cases in the city has circulated online causing fear to some.
But the DOH assured the public that the situation is under control.
“Once again, we would like to appeal to the public to be responsible in sharing information especially in social media. The things that you share on your account can end up being shared by other users also, so think before you post or share,” the DOH said.
Department of Education Region 11 spokesperson, Genelito Atillo said upon the order of the Secretary Leonor Briones that the department will also closely monitor all schools in Davao City to ensure their safety.
Atillo said they will replicate the precautions that the department used during the dengvaxia scare.
He also added that the department is ready to implement additional measures upon confirmation that there is a case of meningococcemia.
However, Atillo also noted that private schools will have their autonomy in handling cases related to meningococcemia provided that they adhere to the same standards of safeguarding their staff and students.
“We will have to succumb to the particular actions that private schools take,” Atillo said.
Meanwhile, in her privilege speech this Tuesday afternoon, Committee on Health Chairperson Councilor Josephine Villafuerte called the attention of the public after a photo of the patient went viral on social media. The photo created a public health scare and raised further concerns from the locals.
Villafuerte noted that the public should respect the privacy and confidentiality of the case as stated in the law, both in the Philippine Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and the Bill of Magna Carta of Patient’s Rights and Obligation Act of 2017.
“The provisions of law and of pertinent codes and regulations will do well to guarantee that privacy-related issues such as what we faced last week will be at the very least diminished” she said.
Villafuerte is now pushing to conduct a dialogue to “formulate common rules, rights-based approach” to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of patient’s records. — With reports from Kath Cortez (davaotoday.com)