THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) foresees that measles cases will begin to decrease by next month as they further strengthen their vaccination programs in partnership with other government agencies as a response to the outbreak.
In a statement on Wednesday, DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they are working with various other departments and local government units (LGU) for measles prevention.
“The Department of Health is working side by side with other government agencies in quickly responding to mitigate the Measles outbreak. This government is conducting a massive information dissemination and immunization campaign to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated,” he said.
Mr. Duque also said that the vaccination activities are targeted to be completed by next month, and “cases will start to decrease by that time as the number of susceptibles will have already been vaccinated come March.”
Earlier this week, DoH reported that there were 4,302 measles cases nationwide from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9 of this year, with 70 deaths.
The National Capital Region (NCR) had the highest number of measles cases out of all the regions with 1,296.
Some government agencies aiding in the DoH’s efforts to aid measles immunization are the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Transportation (DoTr), Department of Education (DepEd) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
In another statement on Wednesday, DoH said they will sign an agreement with DepEd to formalize their collaboration in immunizing school-aged children.
In Western Visayas, the DoH-Center for Health Development regional office (DoH-CHD 6) said 359 suspected measles cases have been recorded since the declaration of the nationwide outbreak.
“Out of the 359 suspected cases, ten are confirmed measles cases with three deaths from Negros Occidental and Antique,” Mary Jane R. Juanico, medical officer III and Child Health team leader of DoH-CHD 6, said in a press conference late Tuesday.
Based on the DoH data, Negros Occidental has the highest number of measles cases with 144, followed by Antique with 101. The rest are in Bacolod City (53), Iloilo province (20), Capiz (15), Aklan (15), and Iloilo City (8).
Ms. Juanico said they are doing their best to combat the spike in measles cases in the region through supplemental immunization program.
In an earlier press conference, DoH-CHD Regional Director Marlyn W. Convocar emphasized the role of parents in getting their children vaccinated.
“Now is the best time for the parents to have their children immunized. It is the parents’ obligation to have their children vaccinated and it is the right of the child to be protected from diseases. They should not be deprived of it,” she said.
In the Davao Region, the DoH recorded one death due to measles with at least 140 cases reported.
DoH Regional Director Anabelle P. Yumang noted that this number was “75% lower compared with the same period of last year.”
“Reported measles cases spiked on the first quarter (of 2018) that prompted the agency to conduct Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) that year,” she said.
Nonetheless, Ms. Yumang echoed calls for parents to have their children vaccinated to protect them from measles and other illnesses. — Gillian M. Cortez with reports from Emme Rose S. Santiagudo and Carmelito Q. Francisco