Health June 7, 2024 - 7:39 am

Dominican Republic’s efforts to combat dengue with PAHO support

Santo Domingo.- In response to the alarming increase in dengue cases across the Americas in 2024, the Dominican Republic has strengthened its efforts to combat the disease with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

So far this year, the region has reported over 8.6 million dengue cases, surpassing the 5.6 million reported in 2023. As of May 31, 2024, the Dominican Republic alone has recorded 7,574 cases.

With the onset of the peak dengue season, characterized by heat and rain that facilitate the spread of the mosquito vector, the Ministry of Public Health launched the National Plan for the Prevention and Control of Dengue on March 20. This plan, based on PAHO’s Integrated Management Strategy (EGI) for the prevention and control of arboviral diseases, aims to enhance early detection, clinical case management, intersectoral coordination, and integrated vector management. The plan also emphasizes communication and community participation to drive behavioral change in dengue prevention.

High-level political commitment has been crucial in preparing the country to tackle the dengue threat. This commitment is evident in the coordinated efforts of the ministries of Health and Education, local governments, academic institutions, specialized medical societies, and civil society representatives.

Vice President Raquel Peña has called on the Dominican people to join the fight against dengue by adhering to preventive measures in communities, schools, and workplaces.

Throughout 2024, PAHO/WHO, in collaboration with the National Health Service and universities, has supported the training of health professionals across different care levels. This includes training over 1,200 doctors from various provinces and more than 570 final-year medical and nursing students, thereby enhancing the diagnostic and clinical management capabilities for dengue.

“Quick and accurate decision-making in managing dengue patients is crucial to prevent progression to severe forms of the disease,” stated Dr. Victor Atallah, Minister of Public Health. “During an outbreak, preventing complications and deaths must be the top priority.”

Alba María Ropero Álvarez, PAHO/WHO representative in the Dominican Republic, emphasized the importance of communication and community participation campaigns to raise awareness about dengue prevention and early care seeking. “An informed population that eliminates mosquito breeding sites in their homes and stays informed through reliable sources is key to preventing dengue,” she said.

In a joint effort, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education launched the “Anti-Dengue Family” strategy. This initiative promotes preventive habits through educational talks aimed at students, teachers, and community leaders, turning them into advocates within their communities. Students contribute 60 hours of community work, significantly bolstering preventive and health promotion efforts.

PAHO has also supported the creation and distribution of educational materials to health personnel in emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, and hospitals, including clinical management algorithms for dengue cases.

Furthermore, PAHO has backed vector control measures to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. This includes training entomologists, epidemiologists, and environmental health personnel, and organizing mosquito breeding site elimination campaigns.

“We recognize the Dominican Republic’s efforts to enhance surveillance, prevention, control, and clinical management of dengue, as well as its commitment to combatting the disease,” said Ropero Álvarez. “Maintaining these interventions and the involvement of all government and societal sectors is essential to effectively control dengue.”


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