Addressing measles outbreak a priority

February 14, 2019

NINETY percent of Filipinos with measles are unvaccinated. In Metro Manila, the figure is 40%, but this is still unacceptable given that measles is no longer a new and rare disease.

This according to Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Winnie Castelo, chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development, upon learning that the measles outbreak has spread to more areas in Luzon and Visayas with a reported 1,500 cases and 26 deaths.

Recently, Health Secretary Francisco Duque announced that the measles outbreak has reached Region IV-A (CALABARZON), Region VI (Western Visayas), and Region VII (Central Visayas). CALABARZON recorded 104 cases and nine deaths. Western Visayas  104 cases and three deaths and Central Visayas listed 71 cases and one death.

In addition, Duque also noted an increase of measles cases in Region I (Ilocos Region), Region II (Cagayan Valley), Region IV-B (MIMAROPA), and Region V (Bicol Region).

“The entire government machinery must work fast and quick to treat the patients of the outbreak,  control the spread of the disease, and  prevent the malady from reaching other areas yet unaffected,” demanded Castelo, who is running for councilor in 2019, a post he previously held for four terms from 1995-2001 and from 2004-2010.

“Given the very high number of Filipinos who have not yet received the anti-measles vaccine, the Health Department and local government units, as well as private institutions who are willing to help, must work triple time to address this medical disaster,” pleaded Castelo.

According to Castelo, “most of the victims, and those highly vulnerable to get afflicted, are indigents who have no capacity to seek medical attention. They must be given free treatment. They must be given free vaccines. They must be given as much assistance as may be available. If the government has savings, this is the best time to make use of it.”

Measles is a highly contagious disease spread through coughing, sneezing and through close personal contact. The symptoms include red eyes, runny nose, fever and skin rashes for more than three to seven days. Complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia, swelling of the brain, malnutrition and blindness, which may lead to death.

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