On January 26, the Department of Health declared a measles outbreak in Manila and Luzon, following its Bureau of Epidemiology report that there were 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, a 74% increase from 2018.
This makes our 2.4 million unvaccinated children more vulnerable as this virus is very dangerous for small children and babies. Dr Gundo Weiler, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to the Philippines, said immunization rates were well below the target of 95% and decreasing over the years. The rate was 75% in 2016, 60 % in 2017 and has fallen even more in 2018. The health agency reported that parents have been reluctant to have their children immunized at government health centers after the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia scare.
Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease which spreads easily through coughs and sneezes. Early symptoms include a fever, cough, runny nose and inflamed eyes. A red rash appears on the face and body a few days later. Health Secretary Francisco Duque announced last week that bronchopneumonia from measles complications can be deadly, and encouraged parents to bring their children for immunization and not wait for complications to be evident as it might be too late.
In Davao City, one death due to measles was already reported. Dr. Anabelle Yumang, DOH regional director, said the death was recently recorded in Barangay Tibungco, Bunawan District, among the 54 cases of measles monitored since Jan. 1. In the region, a total of 86 cases were reported, with the most number coming from the city.
But this figure is 75% lower than last year, Yumang said, because they have conducted house-house immunization last year when several cases of measles were reported. Be that as it may, parents should bring their young children for vaccination and an intensified campaign on measles education has to be implemented especially in vulnerable areas to stop the virus.
This measles outbreak is also reported in the USA and various parts of the world and has become a global concern, throwing a block to meeting the sustainable development goals in providing the best care for our children below one to five years old.
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