DOH Bicol: Avail of measles vaccines, newborn screening

The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol, through the Family Health Cluster and Health Promotion Unit visited Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte to conduct a press conference regarding the Supplemental Immunization Activity and Newborn Screening Tests.

This is part of DOH Bicol’s strategy to relay information to the provinces in region 5 firsthand in order to raise awareness and gain commitment to support its health activities and advocacies.

DOH Bicol also hopes that through this activity, they will be able to address the public’s concerns and shed light on issues against vaccines to encourage the public to avail immunization.

Measles cases on the rise

The DOH Bicol has recorded an alarming 229 measles cases in Region 5 from January to September this year, which is over 200% increase from the 67 cases last 2017. Masbate holds the highest record among the other provinces with 78 cases as of date, followed by Camarines Sur – 63, Camarines Norte – 61, Albay – 12, Sorsogon – 12, and Catanduanes - 3. The DOH attributes the rise of cases to the public’s resistance to vaccination.

“The increasing trend of cases of measles in Bicol is alarming and that is why we are strengthening our information caravan to increase the level of awareness of the general public regarding tigdas (measles). The fact that measles is a vaccine-preventable disease means it is unacceptable to see more children suffering this disease,” said Dr. Monrey Isaiah Mancilla, Medical Officer III, in charge of Expanded Program on Immunization of DOH Bicol.

Mancilla noted that parents should not be afraid or hesitant to visit health centers to avail of the vaccine because the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines have been used by DOH since 1982 and had no adverse side effects reported since then.

“We are here because we want to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated as part of the prevention method,” added Mancilla.

DOH Bicol assured that it would continue its information and education campaign on the prevention of measles in the region. Part of the strategy that DOH employs is the routine measles vaccination for children through school health caravan, and fixed house-to-house immunization.

DOH Bicol also spearheaded the “Basta Wednesday, Barangay Bakuna Day” program, which distributes free vaccines in every barangay health centers in Bicol.

Expanded New Born Screening for expanded protection

DOH Bicol Family Health Cluster head, Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, highlighted the importance of the expanded program, which can detect more disorders than the standard NBS and encouraged parents of newborn babies to avail of the Expanded Newborn Screening (NBS) program for early detection of disorders that can lead to mental retardation or even death.

According to data presented during the press conference by Twinkle Jean Lorilla, Newborn Screening Coordinator, Bicol achieved 79% of New Born Screening Coverage. DOH Bicol aims to increase this number to at least 85% by implementing programs and initiatives to strengthen the NBS advocacy through information caravans, conducting NBS Trainings and Orientations to heighten the quality of NBS services, as well as funding support to help positive indigent parents avail NBS.

Ang-Bon said the NBS for 6 disorders, which costs PHP550, is included in the newborn care package for Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) members. On the other hand, the Expanded NBS can detect as much as 20 disorders and costs PHP1,500.//NSAU