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Dengue: a new health emergency and we still haven’t learned

“We came out of this changed”, “we are going to learn a lot after this”. Those are some of the phrases we hear quite frequently during the COVID-19 pandemicespecially in the most complicated passages, when we were just learning about the disease and the treatment.

We also repeated them when we saw the terrible limitations in our health system, in infrastructure, organization and human resources. And it is likely that, in a fit of optimism, you -as well as I- also thought that, knowing our failures, it would be very difficult to stumble over the same stone again. But, of course, we forget that -apparently-

Dengue cases have increased unusually, affecting more locations, including Lima. The latest information from Trade points out that so far in 2023 more than 90,000 have been registered, compared to last year where there were 12,143 and in 2021 there were only 4,072.

Unfortunately, this new health emergency is showing us that nothing has changed. But, beware, those who seem to have never been exposed to a similar situation.

with the same stone

The most obvious has to do with the handling of the situation by the authorities. On the one hand, last week we heard the Minister of Health, Rosa Gutiérrez, publicly assure that the epidemic was under control and that they are convinced that “in two weeks that curve (of infections) that is high is going to drop.” Any evidence for that claim? Only the announcement that they had redoubled their efforts from the Minsa. In this regard, specialists from different parts of Peru indicated that the situation is very complex, not only because of the variety of serotypes circulating in the country, but also because of the deficient hospital infrastructure and the difficulties in hiring doctors and nurses. Sound familiar?

“There is a saying that says “an old bird does not enter a cage”, and it seems that in Peru we are still tempted to see the cage door half open”

But not only that. As the scientific disseminator Alejandra Ruiz León warned, once again the authority faces the problem only with a medical perspective, summoning dengue experts and former ministers, instead of expanding the call to other specialists such as sociologists, communicators, experts in climate change and other health experts, to have a real multisectoral approach to the situation. What we lacked during the pandemic, we are missing now.

We continue: unfortunately, doctors have also reappeared promoting the use of ivermectin as an all-round substance, this time, as a dengue cure. In dialogue with this newspaper, the infectologist Leslie Soto explained that since in this disease 90% of those infected do not show alarm signs, it is easy to attribute this therapeutic effect to this medicine that does not have evidence to support it for the treatment of dengue.

The media are also falling into poor coverage. A few days ago, various media reported on “an ecological repellent against the dengue mosquito” developed at a university in Trujillo. Excellent news, but not a single question about trials, test results or further validation. Basically, as they say that it works, the media publish that it works.

And, finally, it seems that several chains are already circulating with erroneous information about dengue, and many people prefer to continue paying attention to what they receive on WhatsApp than to reliable spaces for information.

A saying about the experience says that “an old bird does not enter a cage”. And it seems that in Peru -especially in health issues-

Source: Elcomercio

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