MANILA, Philippines – Measles cases in the country have already reached to more than 17,000 from January to November this year.
Record shows a staggering increase of 367% as compared to the same period in 2017.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the increase is due to the public’s lack of trust and confidence in the government’s immunization programs stemming from the Dengvaxia controversy.
“There had been certain regions that had been affected by the continuing Dengvaxia issue, the Dengvaxia controversy…There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33% ; ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
According to the DOH, since the Dengvaxia immunization became a controversy in the country, many Filipinos now fear getting vaccinated.
Filipinos have also avoided even the trusted vaccines which had long been in use and proven effective.
This is also the reason why measles outbreak which resulted in six death cases was recorded in Zamboanga last February.
In October this year, measles cases in Bicol have also increased to 300%.
On Wednesday (November 28), 18 death cases were recorded in Sarangani province bringing the total to 84 in the province alone.
Most of those affected are between the ages of 4 months to 40 years old; majority of them were females.
The DOH already created an investigating team to monitor the measles cases in Sarangani province. The cases were identified to have originated from the B’laan tribe where vaccination is never practiced.
According to the Duque, these areas are also conflict- affected which is the reason why health services cannot easily reach the residents.
“It’s also NPA-infested and so this is really one of the challenges under the universal health care. This is something that we need to prioritize,” Duque said.
Meanwhile, more than 200 children were immunized in the affected areas to prevent them from being infected with measles.
Common signs and symptoms for suspected measles typically include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat followed by a rash that spread all over the body. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)