Measles outbreak in Western Visayas

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

MEASLES outbreak has been declared in Western Visayas, according to Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD)-6.

Dr. Mary Jane Roches Juanico, Medical Officer III and Child Health team leader of DOH-CHD 6, said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III declared the outbreak in a press release.

“As declared by DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III in today’s press release, we have a measles outbreak nationwide. Among the top regions ang Western Visayas,” Juanico said.

Aside from Region 6, the DOH also declared the measles outbreak in Metro Manila and other areas of Luzon, and Central and Eastern Visayas.

According to Juanico, 166 reported measles cases with three suspected deaths were recorded in the region as of January 26, 2019.

“We are still waiting for additional reports sa 2018 nga kaso naton but as of Jan. 26, we have 3 suspected deaths pero wala pa ma-estbalish nga measles ang reason sang ila death,” she said.

In 2018, Western Visayas recorded 1,052 suspected cases with 245 confirmed cases, according to DOH.

Negros Occidental posted the highest cases with 94 and Iloilo province with 32 cases, the highest in Panay Island.

Despite the relentless campaign of DOH to combat measles, Juanico said they are still below target in the supplemental immunization activity against the infection.

“Last year, we conducted our supplemental immunization campaign on the 25 local government units in the region including two highly-urbanized cities, Bacolod and Iloilo City and we covered only 58% or 195, 356 out of the 339,181 target population,” she said.

Aside from lack of awareness, Juanico said the low percentage is attributed to the Dengvaxia scare.

“Kalabanan ni nga mga reason naton may mga ginikanan or caregiver kita nga unaware sang aton nga campaign sa supplemental immunization campaign and most of them are still affected by the Dengvaxia scare,” she lamented.

For this reason, Juanico said DOH is planning to conduct another regionwide immunization in all LGUS and health facilities in April 2019.

“We are also vaccinating our health workers in the hospitals because some of our cases are also in the hospital so it is part of our infection control,” she said.

Meanwhile, Juanico urged the public to avail of the free immunization program of the DOH not only to protect their children but also their community.

“Our immunization program has been implemented for more than 30 years and have greatly reduced the number of measles death so very important nga i-comply sang aton mga ginikanan not only sa protection sang ila kabataan but sa protection man sang whole community,” she emphasized.

She also warned households to be vigilant in checking for possible measles cases and to report to the nearest health centers if the symptoms are present.

“Whenever anyone from your household suffer from fever, rashes, reddish eyes and has history of colds and cough, that is already considered high index of suspicion and need gid makadto sa health center or hospital for proper treatment,” she noted.

Recently, DOH announced that more than 2 million children in the country are at risk of measles.