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Press Release - Senate Health Committee tackles pertussis outbreak concern as Chair Bong Go urges DOH to strengthen prevention and response measures

During a public hearing on Tuesday, April 2, conducted by the Senate Committee on Health joint with the Committee on Finance, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed significant concern over the reported cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, prompting discussions on the country's readiness and response strategies.

Opening the discussion, Go questioned Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa about the department's preparation and response efforts amidst several areas declaring states of calamity, notably Iloilo City, due to the pertussis outbreak.

"How about dito sa emerging (diseases)... sa pertussis, Sec. Ted? Ano ba'ng preparation na ginagawa ninyo since marami pang mga lugar na nag-declare na po sila ng state of calamity like Iloilo City?" Go asked.

Responding to Go's inquiries, Herbosa provided an update on the situation, noting, "Meron tayong total number of 862 cases reported as of January to March 23." Herbosa emphasized that pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease, controllable through DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus), DTaP, or pentavalent vaccines.

According to experts, the surge in cases was attributed to a significant number of unvaccinated children, with Herbosa stressing the importance of vaccinating children below five years old to protect them against the disease.

Further detailing the geographical impact, Herbosa mentioned, "Sa lahat ng region, ang pinakamataas po ay sa (Region) IV-B. May 11 cases tayo. At sa Quezon City po, 'yung nag-declare ng outbreak, sapagkat zero sila the previous year."

Several areas in the country, including Quezon City, Iloilo City, and Cavite province, have declared localized outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough). Other regions like Rizal, Taguig City, Pasig City, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon Province, and Lucena City are also experiencing a significant rise in cases.

The DOH reports that from January 1 to March 23, 2024, there has been a surge in pertussis cases across the country, reaching 862. This figure represents a thirtyfold increase compared to the same timeframe in the previous year. Additionally, there have been 49 fatalities attributed to pertussis to date.

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