Measles cases rising; 333 deaths recorded since start of 2019

Measles cases rising; 333 deaths recorded since start of 2019

A report shown by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau dated March 20, the number of measles cases recorded from Jan. 1 to Mar. 19 has reached a number of 22,967. From March 13 to 14 respectively, the DOH recorded and validated 1,088 measles cases.

Patients of a total of 333 have perished from measles. The majority of the deaths were chronicled in Region 4-A with 96, followed by the National Capital Region with 87 deaths.

Region 4-A had seen the greatest number of measles cases with 4,740, followed by NCR with 4,512 cases. In the same period back in 2018, DOH has recorded 4,818 measles cases with 43 deaths.

The government stated a measles outbreak early February after hundreds of children acquired the airborne disease in Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon and Central Visayas.

The measles outbreak might diminish in April as the DOH moves to vaccinate some 12 million Filipinos against the disease, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier stated.

The Philippines has seen a decline in the first dose of measles vaccine in the past decade – from above 80% in 2008 to below 70% in 2017. Initial figures for 2018 indicate further decrease. As a result, many children have become susceptible to measles infection. WHO estimates that 2.6 million children under the age of 5 years in the Philippines are not protected from measles. As long as routine immunization remains low in the Philippines, the country will experience periodic measles outbreaks.

When a community has low immunization coverage, the likelihood of measles outbreak increases. An immunization coverage of 95% amongst all children is required for a community to be fully protected against measles. It includes fortification of immunity for the vulnerable members of the population such as infants that are too young to receive vaccination, people who have weakened immune systems, and older adults.

Multiple factors may contribute to the low immunization coverage in the country; Inadequate service delivery continues to be a concern, including less than optimal number of immunization sessions at the primary care level and accessibility issues particularly in hard-to-reach areas in the Philippines.

Vaccine confidence has also decreased in the Philippines following the dengue vaccine (Dengvaxia) issue.

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