Health experts press for urgent, integrated approach to tackle dengue
By Alisa Tang
BANGKOK, Feb 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Health experts called on Thursday for urgent action to tackle the "global dengue pandemic", and said the number of cases was expected to spike in some countries this year, partly because of the El Niño weather phenomenon.
The experts, from several organisations, urged governments in the region to support collaborative efforts to combat the spread of dengue in Asia, which had the highest incidence of the disease in the world.
One impetus for the call to action is Sanofi Pasteur's new Dengvaxia vaccine that has received approval in Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and the Philippines, said Dr. In-Kyu Yoon, director of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI), adding that other vaccines were in the development pipeline.
With dengue experts on its staff and board, DVI - one of the groups behind the call - is part of the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute and has received support from Sanofi Pasteur to raise awareness about dengue vaccination.
"The dengue problem won't just go away and won't be helped by half measures. If countries and regions want to tackle the issue effectively, it will take a huge commitment on the part of individual countries and regions, groups of countries, to address it," Yoon said.
Experts have said Dengvaxia is not perfect and does not protect equally against the four different serotypes of dengue, but is a tool that can be part of an integrated approach for prevention of the disease.
Other drugmakers including Japan's Takeda and U.S. Merck are also working on dengue vaccines but are several years behind.