UNICEF urges parents: Vaccinate children against measles

09 February, 2019, 08:09 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Measles outbreak declared in Philippines

The Health Department in the Philippines announced on Thursday (Feb 7) an outbreak of measles in the Manila metropolitan area and other regions that has caused 22 deaths.

One reason for this is that many parents have been reluctant to have their children immunised at government health centres, following complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government should seriously consider mandatory vaccination of children following the outbreak of measles in the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), and Central and Western Visayas.

The campaign also intensified following reports that a three-year-old child died on Friday and became the 80th fatality at the government-run San Lazaro Hospital in Manila where officials admitted they had to accommodate the increasing number of measles patients to two to a bed due to overcrowding.

On the contrary, there were fewer measles cases recorded in January compared to the same period a year ago.

Secretary Duque said immunization and vitamin A supplementation of children especially nine-month-old are the best preventive defense against measles.

He said he hoped that as the public saw the effect of avoiding vaccination, parents would have their children inoculated not only to protect them from diseases but also to improve a community's collective immunity.

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Four hundred forty one cases were reported in metropolitan Manila, which spans 16 cities and one town, a 1,125 per cent increase from past year.

In just the first month of 2019, the hospital tallied 1,550 reported cases of measles, in contrast to 2,654 cases and 68 deaths in 2018. Then-president Benigno Aquino approved its release before he stepped down in 2016 and the vaccine was administered to children in public elementary schools.

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.

"Nutritional support and oral rehydration are important measures to increase body resistance and replace lost body fluids caused by coughing, diarrhea, and perspiration", Duque added.

"All of the health centers in Davao are offering measles immunization for children, even those out of the target age".

"To the parents, let's not take the health of our children for granted. He was saddened, so he said it should be addressed immediately", Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

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