Measles outbreak declared in Philippines

The authorities in manila have declared an outbreak situation of contagious measles disease in several areas of the Country including the Capital Manila.

Health officials lamented that especially parents refused to have their children vaccinated against measles and other childhood ailments like hepatitis due to fears that they might also die due to complications from the use of Dengvaxia.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque told local media that bronchopneumonia from measles complications can be deadly, and encouraged parents to bring their children for immunisation.

There have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths in Philippines as of January 26, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau.

"We are declaring an outbreak as cases have increased in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance of new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant", Duque said.

He said that Calabarzon - a collective name for the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon - had the highest number of measles cases at 575, including nine deaths. In Luzon, 192 cases were reported with four deaths.

DOH Calarzon director Eduardo Janairo said those aged 5 years old and above will also be included in the program, "to ensure that everyone will be protected and further prevent the spread of measles to the population". The vaccine's maker, Sanofi, set off a panic when it said a new analysis showed Dengvaxia could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected with dengue. Then-president Benigno Aquino approved its release before he stepped down in 2016 and the vaccine was administered to children in public elementary schools.

Community health nurse Mylene Pontanos injects a measles vaccine to a child in Barangay Payatas.

For the whole year of 2018, NCR registered 3, 646 measles cases as to against 351 cases in 2017.

The sharp increase in measles cases and deaths prompted senators to call on the public to get children vaccinated. "Let's have them inoculated before the outbreak of measles worsens", Sen. The move was welcomed by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo Thursday, even as he acknowledged that Acosta may have scared the public from getting immunized.

Last year, vaccination coverage was reported to be at around 40 percent. "The [Health] secretary was saying that some of our people are reluctant to undergo immunization by reason of the Dengvaxia scandal".

Convocar said they also prioritize the implementation of "measles fast lanes". "I think, baka ma-question pa 'yan sa korte [perhaps it will be questioned in court] somehow", Nograles told reporters.

Vanessa Coleman

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