Philippines hit by measles outbreak

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 8, 2019

The measles outbreak, De Lima said, was preventable by vaccination but "many did not avail of because of the panic created in her effort to pin down previous administration officials for supposed deaths caused by Dengvaxia".

As many as 57 people, including infants and children, have died at the government-run San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, its spokesman Dr Ferdinand de Guzman said.

On Thursday, the Department of Health's Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) 6 (Western Visayas) reported 166 suspected measles cases with three deaths from January 1 to 26 this year.

There has been "a big, big difference", he said.

Ernell Tumimbang said the provincial government has strengthened its immunization program to address the cases, which significantly increased in the past year.

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

A senior health official declared a measles outbreak in the Philippines with at least 57 reported dead, all of them children in Metro Manila alone, amid alarming reports that an increasing number of cases were also being noted in the country's other regions. The move was welcomed by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo Thursday, even as he acknowledged that Acosta may have scared the public from getting immunized.

As early as December a year ago, health experts warned against a possible outbreak of measles in the Philippines due to the declining trust in vaccines in the wake of a controversy that hounded a dengue immunization program in 2017.

"Parents, caregivers tell us they are afraid to have their children vaccinated because of Dengvaxia", said Dr De Guzman. Then-president Benigno Aquino approved its release before he stepped down in 2016 and the vaccine was administered to children in public elementary schools.

In 2017, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur reported that the vaccine presented risks to people who had not been infected prior to immunisation.

Partial report of CHD-6's immunization coverage showed that only 61 percent of babies, who were supposed to have their first dose at nine months old, had been vaccinated.

DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the DOH has instructed its medical teams to perform necessary measures to keep the measles virus from spreading.

"I hope concerns like this should not be politicized because the lives of the children are at stake here", she said.

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