VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Former Health Secretary Garin sings different tune on DOH’s 4S program

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Iloilo 1st district representative Janette Garin has changed her stance on the effectivity of the Department of Health’s (DOH) dengue prevention program called the Enhanced 4S Strategy. From promoting it as “key” strategy against the spread of dengue when she was still health secretary, Garin now thinks the strategy has minimal effect.


During the Aug. 28 briefing on DOH’s P160.15 billion proposed budget in the House of Representatives, Garin, who is also the Senior Deputy Minority leader, said:

"Maganda naman po ang paglilinis at dapat ipagpatuloy natin ito pero 'wag po nating linlangin ang taumbayan (Cleaning is good and we must continue doing it but let’s not deceive the people)...Bottomline is WHO has given the world the five pillars to address dengue...Pero ang totoo po (But the truth is), 4S will work at a very minimal level dahil dalawang dekada na, wala pang nangyayari (because it’s been two decades and nothing has happened)."

Source: House of Representatives, Budget Briefing of the Committee on Appropriations (Department of Health), Aug. 28, 2019, watch from 44:25 to 45:25

Garin said this after Health Secretary Francisco Duque touted his department’s cleanliness program against the mosquito-borne disease during the briefing. 4S stands for “Search and Destroy, Seek Early Consultation, Self Protection Measures, Say yes to fogging only during outbreaks.”

In a statement posted Aug. 2 on her official Facebook page, Garin said the DOH should be "more proactive" and go beyond its 4S strategy in fighting dengue. Two days later, in an interview with CNN Philippines, the former health secretary called on DOH to make Dengvaxia -- a dengue vaccine that previously dragged her into national controversy -- available to those who opt for it.


Garin pushed for 4S as health secretary from December 2014 to June 30, 2016 to quell the spread of dengue in the country, calling cleanliness the “key” against such diseases.

In March 2016, three months before vacating the health office, she reiterated the practice of 4S after the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that an American resident tested positive for Zika virus, another mosquito-borne disease, after returning from a visit in the Philippines. She said:

“We reiterate that cleanliness is still the key against mosquito-borne diseases. The public is reminded to be vigilant and pre-cautious in eliminating mosquito breeding places through the ‘4S campaign’.”

Source: Official Gazette, Health department on the Zika case from the PH, March 7, 2016

Months prior, in an interview with GMA News on Sept. 1, 2015, Garin called on the public during a dengue outbreak to practice cleanliness, such as the proper disposal of bottles, to prevent dengue-carrier mosquitoes from thriving in "open areas" where water could accumulate. She said “vector control,” as well as vaccination, could help in the fight against dengue.

In an October 2015 Official Gazette press release, she again pushed for the 4S strategy during the launch of the dengue prevention program Brigada para sa Kalinisan (Brigade for Cleanliness) with the Department of Education and Department of Social Welfare and Development. The press release quoted her:

Kung sama-sama tayo na lilinisin ang ating kapaligiran, kayang-kaya nating sugpuin ang (If we work together in cleaning our environment, we can really put a stop to) dengue.”

Source: Official Gazette, The government combats dengue in schools nationwide, Oct. 28, 2015

She also said:

“The first step to prevent dengue is within our homes…[L]et us make it a practice and instill cleanliness in our surroundings. It is not only your family who will benefit with this habit, but the safety of our entire community as well.”

Source: Department of Health (Philippines), DOH TIES UP WITH DEPED, DSWD, DILG IN BRIGADA KALINISAN PARA SA KALUSUGAN, Oct. 28, 2015

Dengue, according to DOH, is the “fastest spreading vector-borne disease” in the world that is transmitted by day biting Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.

The DOH's 4S strategy under its National Dengue Prevention and Control Program is in line with WHO's Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control 2012-2020, which outlines five elements in reducing the "burden of dengue" worldwide. According to WHO, effective vector control is "critical to achieving and sustaining reduction of morbidity attributable to dengue."

It added:

"Preventive and vector control interventions aim to reduce dengue transmission, thereby decreasing the incidence of the infection and preventing outbreaks of the disease."

Source: World Health Organization, WHO's Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control 2012-2020, 2012

WHO recognizes other strategies against dengue such as sustainable vector control -- which includes the use of insecticides and elimination of possible breeding sites of mosquitoes -- and vaccination, among others, as one of the methods to prevent the spread of dengue virus. Vaccination is also among the five elements WHO outlined in its dengue prevention and control strategy.

The latest report on the dengue outbreak of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, which supports the DOH in its efforts against dengue, shows there have been at least 130,012 dengue cases and 540 deaths reported in the country as of Aug. 10.



Congress of the Philippines, Lawmakers grill DOH officials on RH promotion, expired drugs, PhilHealth system, Aug. 28, 2019

Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin official Facebook page, Ang pangunahing stratehiya ng DOH sa pagsugpo ng Dengue ay 4S pa rin…, Aug. 2, 2019

CNN Philippines, The Source: Janette Garin, Aug. 4, 2019

ABS-CBN News, Ex-DOH chief hits PAO probe on Dengvaxia, Jan 15, 2018


GMA News, BT: DOH: Bilang ng kaso ng dengue sa Pilipinas, tumaas, Sept. 1, 2015

Official Gazette, The government combats dengue in schools nationwide, October 28, 2015

Department of Health (Philippines) official Facebook page, DOH TIES UP WITH DEPED, DSWD, DILG IN BRIGADA KALINISAN PARA SA KALUSUGAN, Oct. 28, 2015

Official Gazette, DOH unveils Aksyon Barangay kontra dengue as Luzon braces for surge, August 25, 2011

Official Gazette, Health department on the Zika case from the PH, March 7, 2016

World Health Organization, GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR DENGUE PREVENTION AND CONTROL for 2012-2020, 2012

World Health Organization, Global Strategic Framework for Integrated Vector Management, 2004

World Health Organization, Dengue and severe dengue, April 15, 2019

Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, Inc, Dengue Disease Bulletin, Aug. 5, 2010

Department of Health, DOH DECLARES NATIONAL DENGUE EPIDEMIC, Aug, 6, 2019

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, SitRep No. 15 re Dengue Outbreak, Aug, 10, 2019

ANC 24/7, PH Health agency declares national dengue epidemic, Aug. 6, 2019



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)


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