Dengue Fever Puts the Cuban Health System to the Test Yet Again

COVID-19 had left dengue fever in the background, but the disease is now spreading again on an island without supplies for prevention. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2022 — The Mario Muñoz Monroy hospital, in Colón, Matanzas, has been forced to open two rooms of 60 and 20 beds respectively to accommodate the “significant number of admissions” that dengue fever is bringing.

On Wednesday, the official newspaper of the province, Girón, reported an increase in fever consultations that is in line with the news coming from Sancti Spíritus, where the ruling party has recognized that fifty people are cared for daily for dengue fever, and that “some people have developed serious forms of the disease.” The worst cases in this province are concentrated in Cabaiguán and Trinidad.

In the case of Matanzas, the deputy director of Public Health, Andrés Lamas Acevedo, said that cases decreased in the last week in Colón, but from neighboring Calimete the visits of patients with complications are increasing. Jagüey Grande, Cárdenas and the main municipality are other towns that are the most affected.

Last week, the authorities recognized an incidence rate of 19.7 cases per 100,000. The Minister of Health himself, José Ángel Portal Miranda, admitted at a press conference the exponential growth of the disease in recent months and said that the worst is yet to come. In April, the incidence rate was 12.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in June it reached 46.3.

Health workers insist that the population must do everything possible to protect themselves because there are no insecticides such as Abate or diesel available to fumigate every six days, as established in the protocols. These limitations coupled with the summer heat and the long hours of blackouts are leading to the proliferation of a disease that had remained in the background during COVID.

In addition, it is estimated that the under-declaration of dengue fever is elevated. On one hand, many patients refuse to go to the doctor to avoid hospitalization due to the state of many centers throughout the island. On the other, there is a visible shortage of means for a correct diagnosis, and some patients claim that the required tests are not performed because the reagents are rationed for the most severe cases.

“We are alarmed,” an internist at a hospital in Havana told this newspaper, who said that more serious cases are occurring this year than usual. “In previous epidemics, perhaps approximately 10% of cases had warning signs (those that warn you that the patient is not progressing well), but now it is more than 30%.”

In recent weeks, networks have reported the deaths of several people due to dengue symptoms, but the authorities are reluctant to give numbers of deaths despite the demands of the population.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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