Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona introduced a new strategy on ‘specific targeting’ of dengue using information technology during the ASEAN Dengue Day celebration held in San Fernando City, Pampanga on 15 June 2012.
Specific targeting is the immediate response of the authorities to conduct control measures in a particular community whenever suspected dengue cases are reported. “What we added here is the use of short messaging system (SMS) or text that would allow real-time reporting of dengue cases,” said Secretary Ona.
Through the system, rural health units and hospitals will immediately report suspected dengue cases to the dengue coordinators who would forward the information to the dengue monitoring hub managed by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The PIA will then execute a ‘text blast’ to warn the dengue affected areas and immediate vicinities while barangay health teams will conduct investigations.
According to PIA Regional Director Robert Baldago, “PIA has collaborated with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Smart Communications and Globe Telecom to allocate a total of 100,000 monthly free text messages per PIA regional office which will be used in sending free information on dengue prevention and control. Text messages will be sent directly to various stakeholders, partners and barangay officials of the affected communities.”
Aside from information on dengue, Director Baldago shared that the ‘SMS blast’ will also be used to send free public advisories on other health risks and calamity warnings such as flood and typhoon notices to recipients segmented by provinces, sectors, occupations and genders.
“The ‘SMS Blast’ for dengue warning is pilot-tested in Pampanga and will eventually be implemented in other provinces in the country,” said Secretary Ona.