Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Philippines hit by deadly measles outbreak after controversy over dengue vaccinations I#AsiaNewsNetwork

Philippines hit by deadly measles outbreak after controversy over dengue vaccinations I#AsiaNewsNetwork

In the first three quarters of last year (2018), the number of unvaccinated children rose to over 960,000 from some 850,000 a year earlier.

In a news conference, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles on Friday said the government might face legal issues in court if it implemented mandatory immunization for children.

More measles cases are being detected in and outside Metro Manila, prompting the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) to expand the declaration of a measles outbreak in several provinces in the Philippine main Luzon island and in the Visayas region in the central Philippines.

While global measles deaths have decreased by 84 percent worldwide in recent years - from 550,100 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016 - the World Health Organization (WHO) said measles is still common in many developing countries, particularly in parts of Asia and Africa.

"I think it might be questioned before the courts somehow", he said. "We are now looking at big outbreak and hundreds, even thousands, are expected to die every year if this trend continues", she said, urging parents to vaccinate their children.

On the other hand, the epidemiology department of San Lazaro, a referral hospital for infectious diseases, reported 1,629 measles patients, mostly children as young as 2 months old, as of Friday. "It has significantly dropped, considering that January a year ago, we had 141 cases", she said.

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday (Feb 6) there had been 441 cases of measles in the Manila metropolitan area as of Jan 26, compared to 36 cases in 2018.

The DOH office in Calabarzon reported five more deaths, raising the fatality figure in the region to 14 from January 1 to February 8.

In Western Visayas, a total of 166 measles cases with three suspected deaths were recorded in the region as of Jan 26, 2019, DoH records showed.

The sharp increase in measles cases and deaths prompted senators to call on the public to get children vaccinated. There is an outbreak of measles in the region.

Senators Bam Aquino and JV Ejercito appealed for calm.

The UNICEF also vowed to support the Philippines in fighting measles by ensuring that vaccines are available.

Some parents became hesitant to have their children immunized due to misinformation or "fake news" about vaccines triggered by the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, lamented Convocar.

One reason for this is that many parents have been reluctant to have their children immunised at government health centres, following complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.

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