The Department of Health (DOH) in MIMAROPA has called on education authorities in Palawan to allow students to wear light-colored clothes, long sleeves, and pants until the rainy months are over to help protect them against mosquito bites that cause dengue and other vector-borne diseases.

Health regional director Dr. Mario Baquilod said the suggested easing of school rules on the strict wearing of uniforms is part of their “Enhanced Dengue 4S Strategies” campaign in the MIMAROPA where dengue cases are expected to continuously rise until the month of September.

He said the action was stated in a letter he sent to Department of Education (DepEd) regional director Benjamin Paragas on July 26. It was received by Paragas’ office on July 30.

“Ang aming suggestion ay during these rainy months na meron tayong increased cases ay sana mapayagan na magsuot muna ang mga estudyante ng light-colored clothes, long sleeves, at pants para maproteksyonan sila laban sa kagat ng lamok na maaaring magdala ng dengue from the present hanggang September. During this period lang kasi nakita namin mataas talaga ang dengue cases,” Baquilod said Thursday in a phone interview.

As of July 19 (Morbidity Week 29), Baquilod said reports from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) showed an increase of 60.74 percent in dengue cases compared to the same period last year with a total of 4,488 and 13 deaths.

At present, he said, cases have increased already to over 6,000.

Baquilod said the DOH Center for Health Development (CHD) is reiterating vigilance in the implementation of the 4S Strategies (Search and Destroy, Self-Protection, Seek Early Consultation, and Say Yes to Misting during impending outbreak) with emphasis on the “self-protection measures”.

He said the suggested clothes for students to wear to school would help protect exposed skin against mosquito bites.

“Somehow, maproproteksyonan sila para hindi makagat ng lamok ‘yong exposed skin kasi short sleeves ang uniform at ang skirts hanggang tuhod lang. This period lang sana ay magkaroon ng changes lang temporarily. Lahat ito, public or private schools hanggang tertiary level nga kasi ang dengue detected sa preschoolers hanggang 20-years-old,” he said.

In reply, Paragas ordered all schools division superintendents in the MIMAROPA on August 7 to temporarily modify rules on the wearing of uniforms.

He said all schools heads “must abide” in the temporary modification of school uniforms by allowing students to wear what DOH has suggested.

Grace Estefano, spokesperson of the DepEd School Division in the province, said they received the order on August 13.

They are now disseminating it to all school authorities for proper action and compliance.

“Dini-disseminate na namin ngayon ito. Yes, papayagan ang mga students na hindi muna mag-uniform at mag-suot ng mga sina-suggest na attire pang-proteksyon,” Estefano said.

She added they have also requested the Provincial Health Office (PHO) to provide them a list of municipalities in Palawan where there are high incidents of dengue so they can intensify their awareness campaign.