WHO warns of worsening dengue spread in western Pacific

By Xinhua

Manila : The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday warned that the western Pacific region may be heading for a major dengue outbreak unless concerted effort and cooperation were undertaken quickly.

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The disease, which arrived earlier than usual this year, has already caused hundreds of deaths in the region, WHO's regional office for the western Pacific said in a statement.

Stronger political commitment and greater spending from member states were needed to support dengue prevention and control programmes, so as to improve surveillance and the management of patients, the statement said.

For the past decade, ten countries and areas, Cambodia, China, French Polynesia, Fiji, Malaysia, Laos, New Caledonia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, accounted for 98.4 percent of all dengue cases and 99.7 percent of all deaths in the western Pacific region, the WHO added.

The statement, however, said that current official information from most WHO members was incomplete, making it difficult to get an accurate estimate of the magnitude of the problem in the region.

There is neither any vaccine to prevent the disease nor any effective antiviral drugs to treat it.

Dengue is presently endemic in at least 100 countries. Over 50 million dengue infections, including about 400,000 cases of dengue fever, are reported annually, according to the WHO.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a leading cause of childhood death in many countries, the WHO said.