DOH Bicol readies for massive measles vaccination

The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol is set to conduct massive measles vaccination as it braces for increasing cases of measles in the region after the province of Albay posted 12 cases and Sorsogon had two during the first week of January.

Gloria Balboa, DOH regional director, told reporters in a press briefing held at the DOH regional office here on Wednesday morning that the victims are now confined at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) for treatment.

Two days ago, government physician Nathaniel “Nats” Rempillo, acting provincial health officer of Albay, reported eight suspected cases of measles currently confined at the BRTTH.

With this, Rempillo mobilized all health personnel across the province, including barangay health workers, to conduct massive immunization for children to curtail the spread of the contagious disease here.

Last year, a measles outbreak took place in Bicol region wherein out of 140 reported, 18 cases were confirmed through laboratory examinations,

Last year, Albay and Sorsogn had six confirmed cases each, followed by Camarines Sur with five and Masbate with a lone case.

The confirmed cases of measles were in the towns of Camalig and Daraga and Legazpi City in Albay province; Castilla and Pilar in Sorsogn province’ Caramoan, Magarao and Pili in Camarines Sur and Palanas town in Masbate.

Due to this, the DOH Bicol will launch a massive measles immunization to curtail the possible outbreak for children aged six months old and below five years old.

Balboa also called officials of all local government units from the provincial, city, municipal and barangay levels to help them mobilize all health workers to saturate massive immunization among children.

“All should do their responsibility to prevent the spread of measles through massive immunization. This is a concerted effort. Parents and local government units must meet halfway. Measles is a preventable disease if we only follow and do our job together,” Balboa said.

The success of measles elimination depends on the support of local government units, media and other concerned groups because the DOH cannot do it alone, She added.

Measles is a viral disease and highly communicable as it transmits through droplets, spread from person to person through sneezing, coughing and close personal contact.

Dr. Aurora Teresa M. Daluro, DOH medical specialist III, said measles is a treatable disease but deadly due to complications such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, blindness, otitis media and encephalitis, if not treated immediately.

She said the disease is treatable and could be prevented through immunization with measles vaccine at nine months old.

Daluro said a nine-month-old child vaccinated with first-dose measles vaccine is 85-percent protected and a 12-month-old child with a second-dose mumps-measles-ruvilla vaccine is protected at least 95 percent from the contagious disease.

In 2011, the DOH Bicol infused P14 million for medicines for door-to-door measles-rubella immunization, targeting children aged nine months to below eight years old to curtail the spread of the virus.

The health department mobilized more than 1,000 health workers across the region in an effort to combat and eliminate the spread of measles virus here.

The door-to-door measles immunization resulted in only few cases.

The campaign was part of the so-called “Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas” (Save the country from measles), aimed at eliminating measles as a public health problem in the Philippines by 2012 but the resurgence of measles this year across the country is completely alarming. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RRB/CBD/UTB


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