Press Release
July 15, 2019

To fight dengue, make screens mandatory in classroom building plans

With the number of dengue cases in the first half of 2019 double of what was reported in the same period last year, screened windows and doors should be included in the specifications of public classrooms to be built.

"Kung ayaw nating madapuan ng lamok ang ating mga anak sa bahay, dapat ganoon din sa mga paaralan," said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto in proposing that installation of window and door screens be included in the standard plans for Department of Education (DepEd) schools.

"During school days, one in four Filipinos are in public schools," Recto said, referring to 27 million students taught by 830,000 teachers in about 47,000 schools this year.

"If Filipinos congregate there, then we should make sure that mosquitos don't go to school with them. Hindi dapat naka-enrol si Aedes Aegypti, o kung nandoon man, dapat i-expel," Recto said, referring to the mosquito that carries the dengue virus.

"Unfortunately, karamihan ng na-dengue, may school ID," Recto said. Schoolchildren, he said, form the largest group of dengue victims, the number of whom had surged to 98,179 between January and June from the 53,475 the Department of Health (DOH) recorded during the same period last year.

But schools will stop being "injection points of dengue", Recto said, "if new classrooms will come with screened windows and old ones will likewise be fitted, in addition to other measures which are effective in battling dengue, like destroying mosquito breeding places."

Recto said screening off ventilation points in classrooms is not a new idea. "In 2015, there was already a plan by the DOH to install screens in 20,000 classrooms, to add to 7,620 classrooms which were already installed with chemically-treated screens by then."

To cope with the annual increase in enrolment, DepEd needs 10,000 new classrooms. This is on top of the existing backlog of 64,668 classrooms that must be wiped out to achieve the ideal pupil-to-room ratio.

DepEd maintains 757,006 rooms nationwide, 687,757 of which are instructional classrooms and 69,249 for administrative use and support services like canteens and clinics.

"Doon sa classrooms na walang screens, ang maaaring gawin is we budget for their purchase and let it be installed by school stakeholders, bayanihan style. Ang importante ay maikabit," he said.

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