MANILA — Iloilo Representative and House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin has called on the Department of Health (DOH) to preposition doxycycline, a drug used to prevent leptospirosis in barangays and schools, often used as evacuation centers, to make it easily available during calamities.

Garin made the proposal following the aftermath of typhoon Paeng where affected districts, provinces, and local government units (LGUs) experienced a hard time getting hold of the much-needed prophylaxis since they were prepositioned in DOH Regional Offices.

In preparation for Paeng, a total of P31 million worth of drugs and medicines, medical supplies, and other commodities were already prepositioned in different regions. However, when the typhoon hit, roads became impassable, and bridges were damaged making it impossible for the LGUs to get the doxycycline supplies.

In her district alone, Garin said that it took six days after the onslaught of the typhoon before they were able to get the doxycycline, while some areas hit hard by Typhoon Paeng still don’t have this leptospirosis medicine.

“Leptospirosis is a preventable disease, pero ang nangyayari sa atin huli na yung prophylaxis na para sana sa prevention. Doxycycline should be initiated as soon as possible for it to be effective,” Garin, a medical doctor, said.

 “Yung oras ay mahalaga, makainom agad lalo na yung mga high risk individuals pero ang naging problema ay naputol na ang communicaton lines, nasira ang tulay, may ginagawang clearing operations kaya paano mapick up ang gamot, matatagalan talaga. So nawala na yung importansya nito na para sana sa prevention,” Garin added.

Garin has high hopes that the DOH will review its policy on prepositioning doxycycline since this is vital in preventing leptospirosis during calamities.

“We are proposing a more practical and responsive solution to the prevention of leptospirosis. We should target zero leptospirosis post-flooding. Hinahabol natin ang protection because leptospirosis easily reaches the irreversible stage. Prevention is still the best,” Garin stressed.

Early symptoms of leptospirosis can be experienced in 2 to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness in the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and a rash.

The bacteria can gain entry through cuts and abrasions in the skin and through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

Doxycycline can be effective in decreasing the severity and duration of leptospirosis.

The “Interim Guidelines on the Prevention of Leptospirosis through the Use of Prophylaxis in Areas Affected by Floods” issued by the DOH, said that doxycycline should be taken 24 to 72 hours after exposure to contaminated water. (ai/mtvn)

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