Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

DOH declares measles outbreak in NCR - Philippines

DOH declares measles outbreak in NCR - Philippines

"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", Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

The DOH yesterday said that since 26 January, 441 cases were recorded in Metro Manila, compared to 36 cases in 2018.

A day after health authorities declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and parts of the Visayas, the government's San Lazaro Hospital in Santa Cruz, Manila, said Thursday 95 percent of patients at the Pediatric Ward were mostly victims of the outbreak.

She also appealed to parents to have their children vaccinated, adding that the anti-measles vaccine is unlike the controversial Dengvaxia.

The health department and public health advocates blamed the measles outbreak on a massive health scare over Dengvaxia, the once-promising dengue vaccine introduced by the government three years ago.

In early 2016, the health department, under then President Benigno Aquino, rolled out a 3.5 billion-peso (S$91 million) programme to inoculate a million school-age children with Dengvaxia to protect them against dengue, a mosquito-borne disease that afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world.

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Found in Manila, the hospital is known as a referral center for infectious diseases of the DOH and has seen 1,355 cases of measles as of February 5, 2019.

Acknowledging the health emergency, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a "vigorous campaign" to get parents to have their children vaccinated.

"We encourage government hospitals to convert at least one room into a measles isolation room to prevent the spread of the disease in the health facility", said Dr. Renilyn Reyes, Medical Officer IV, in a press briefing on Friday.

The disease's complications included diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (swelling of the brain), malnutrition, blindness which may lead to death.

The Country had recently carried out successfully the largest ever measles vaccination campaign for children across Pakistan.

Amid the outbreak, the House of Representatives also on Friday approved on second reading an act expanding the coverage of the mandatory basic immunization program and providing a system in the determination of other types of vaccine-preventable diseases, amending Republic Act (RA) 10152 or the "Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011". The move was welcomed by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo Thursday, even as he acknowledged that Acosta may have scared the public from getting immunized. "Why deprive them of protection just because of a controversy involving one vaccine?"

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