The Department of Health (DOH) said its has been preparing together with is partners, a program response to the threats posed by the rapidly spreading monkeypox virus since its uptick in cases was reported worldwide last May this year.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has lately declared monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
The UN agency has issued temporary recommendations (TRs) to guide the response of countries around the world that might be affected by the virus.
For countries like the Philippines with no history of monkeypox in humans, some of the guidelines include the following: 1) activate multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms for readiness and response; 2) stop human to human transmission; 3) avoid stigmatization and discrimination against any individual or population group that may be affected, to help prevent further undetected transmission.
The WHO also recommends intensified epidemiology and disease surveillance as well as raising awareness and training of health workers about virus transmission, related prevention and protective measures, and symptoms and signs among affected communities, and other population groups at risk.
DOH OIC-Secretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire has assured the public there is no reported case in the Philippines yet and they are doing everything to prevent the monleypox virus from entering the country.
“Up to now, there has been no finding in the Philippines that fits the definition of a suspect monkeypox case. The clinical presentation is often explained by other diseases that look like monkeypox, but is not the same. The DOH will keep the Filipino public updated with factual information,” she said.
Vergeire also reported that their preparations were all aligned with WHO’s list of temporary recommendations which include aggressive information, communication, and educational campaign about the disease in coordination with other state and private sector partners.
“Consistent with the WHO recommendations, the DOH has been carefully communicating the risk of monkeypox transmission along with other pertinent facts about its causative agent and clinical presentation. DOH stresses in its guidelines and advisories that any individual can get monkeypox,” she said.
Vergeire likewise reported that they have been holding online town hall meetings with health care workers, DOH regional offices, and local health officials in the past weeks to educate and help them detect and stop the virus from spreading.
“The DOH is currently working with local civil society organizations, community-based groups, social hygiene clinics and advocates to properly communicate the risk of monkeypox transmission among certain population groups without stigma,” she added.
“This is consistent with the evidence that anyone can get monkeypox, and we must all work together to prevent not just the disease but also stigma that may cause undetected transmission,”Vergeire stressed.