Yesterday afternoon Jerry’s classroom was fogged for dengue mosquitos. The entire Province of Iloilo is currently in a dengue emergency which includes both Estancia (where Jerry’s family, all our friends and sponsored kids live) plus Iloilo City itself.

All hospitals across the region are overloaded, and patients are now spilling out into makeshift care facilities setup in public  gymnasiums and plazas. The local hospital that serves the municipality of Estancia is currently overloaded 1,073% and no, that figure is not a typo.

The Governor of the Iloilo region recently called for doctors in private practices to volunteer in their spare time. He has also asked private hospitals to take on additional patients.

I’m happy to report that none of our sponsored families currently have Dengue — but the classmates of our little kindergarten boy Jyn, died 2 weeks ago from severe Dengue.  It’s just devastating when kids in kindergarten, Grade 2 and Grade 4 are dying after being bitten by mosquitos.

Little Jyn was terribly upset when he learned about his kindergarten classmate dying from dengue 2 weeks ago.

The Dengue illness exists in two forms — Dengue and Severe Dengue — and is transmitted through mosquito bites. It begins with a very high fever (I know this because I suffered Dengue myself back in 2016) as well as headache, pain behind the eyes, and joint pain. You also get a bright red rash all over your body — I certainly did.

The danger period is about 5 days in when the fever begins to drop. Internal bleeding can occur and patients will suffer severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This is known as Severe Dengue and even with proper medical care, can be fatal.

The schools in the region (including Jerry’s) began issuing Dengue alerts 2 weeks ago, requiring students to wear long pants (or long socks for girls), arm bands or long sleeved shirts — plus mosquito repellant. We were lucky because mum left me a big tube of Bushman’s 40% DEET when she visited in April, and I’ve been using this on Jerry every morning before he goes to school.

Once the Dengue Alert had been issued, I immediately called my friends in Estancia and told them I would buy repellant in the city and bring to them the following weekend. But when I went to a leading pharmacy to buy mosquito repellant, I was told that the entire city had sold out and I wouldn’t find it in any pharmacy, supermarket, or department store.

I went from store to store and was told the same story — that pharmaceutical suppliers were also out of stock and there was no estimated delivery date. With no way of buying lotion, back in Australia mum went to the shops and bought a heap of Bushman’s and put it in the post. Naturally it hasn’t arrived yet, but Dengue will be a problem here until at least December, so it won’t go to waste.

Filipino kids showing their new clothes
Some of our sponsored kids show their new ‘dengue clothes’ — long sleeved shirts and pants to wear to school, bed, or during the most active feeding times of the mosquitos.

With no repellant available, the next best thing (and probably more practical anyway) was to buy the kids long sleeved shirts and pants to wear while the mosquitos are in their active feeding times. Or wear to school — as the public schools have removed the uniform requirement, and are encouraging kids to wear anything that covers them. Again, mum helped out with this too.

Here’s Nicky, Nonoy, and Jylyn in some of their new clothes. 

Of course Jerry felt a little bit put out not to be getting any new clothes, but I did explain that he already had long pants and shirts to sleep in. And that Jylyn, Nicky, and Nonoy were his best friends and it was important to keep them (and their families) safe. He agreed, though he stayed in school in the city when I made the 4 hour bus trip to Estancia to deliver the clothes (and packs of mosquito coils).

So all across the city today, people were having a massive community cleanup — removing rubbish, dead leaves, branches, and stagnant water. As well as cutting grass, and pruning trees. In the afternoons people burned big leafy fires that pour thick smoke.

This has been happening all over the region for weeks now (including Estancia), I hope I have better news to report in my next blog.