Philippines: Measles-Free by 2017

Dr. Eric Tayag, (second from right), DOH spokesman in a press conference with Dr. Tony Leachon, (right) vice president of Philippine College of Physicians; Dr. Beatriz Quiambao (second from left); Dr. Sally Gatchalian (left) from Philippine Doctors Hospital. Photo by Juliet Z Cruz/ Pinoy Vision

What is measles?  
THE Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) announced the curative and preventive actions to increasing cases and death due to measles complications in a press conference held on January 7 at Annabel’s Restaurant, Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

Measles is a respiratory infection caused by a virus, in particular a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus.  Like flu, the symptoms are fever, cough, colds or runny nose, with red eyes and skin rashes. (Wikipedia) 

Measles is spread through respiration. Dr. Tony Leachon, vice president of PCP said in his feature article (How to stop the measles outbreak or epidemic?), humans or the infected ones are the natural hosts of this killer disease which is transferred to another by air.   

A person with measles can infect 18 more people. 

The measles outbreak and remarkable confirmed cases in the laboratory in metropolis areas and some regions of the Philippines urged DOH to inform massively this outburst.

For parents, vaccination of children at early stages of life is given as one of the must-dos in order to prevent this kind of disease.  However, in some instances, there are children who are not provided by this vaccination. 

Measles’ Status in the World and in the Philippines 

In a recent report from World health Organization, measles ranks as one of the leading causes of childhood mortality in the world. 

The outbreak was declared over the weekend in Quiapo, Sampaloc, Tondo, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Port Area and Sta. Mesa in Manila; Dagat-Dagatan and Bagong Barrio in Caloocan City; Talon 5, Talon 2, and Pamplona Uno in Las Piñas; and Longos and Tonsuya in Malabon. The same condition was observed in Alabang and Putatan in Muntinlupa; North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas; Moonwalk and Don Bosco in Parañaque; Bagong Tanyag in Taguig, and Ugong in Valenzuela. 

Last year, there were 1,724 measles cases, 21 deaths recorded in the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center (NEC) and most cases were in Metro Manila. 

Dr. Eric Tayag, the assistant secretary and health department spokesman,at the same time heads the National Epidemiology Center (NEC), said there is now a growing need for a door-to-door vaccination drive after DOH recorded a high incidence of measles cases last year. 

It is good to know that in Quezon City there has no measles outbreak reported. 

To Do and Not To Do
  • Bring down the temperature by giving more water or oral rehydration salt solution and this will also avoid dehydration.
  • Sponge bath the patient to decrease or normalize the temperature.
  • Give paracetamol according to the indicated recommended dosage.
  • Consult the doctor or send to the nearest health center. Measles vaccinations are free in health centers nationwide.
  • Clean the nose due to runny nose using hanky or clean soft cloth.
  • Asec. Tayag also advised giving vitamins to children to help build their immune defenses.  For malnourished children it could cause complications that could kill so he recommended vitamin A which can reduce mortality rates by 50%. This is also free in health centers.
  • Dr. Eric Tayag said, do not drink “kulantro” mix, as folklore remedy which is acidic and might burn the tissues of our food passageways. The kulantro solution (after boiling with water) can be used externally as part of the mixture in sponge bath.
  • Children with fever should not go to school to prevent cases of transmission and multiplication of this disease.
Massive Vaccination against Measles 
We often hear the adage, prevention is better than cure.

With this, DOH is gearing on to halt this epidemic by massive measles vaccination drive in Metro Manila and some areas in the Visayan region. Dr. Tayag, said that Manila started their massive vaccination but due to “dayo” or migration of people from different places there were viral transmission of measles in metropolis.

“Vaccines do not save lives. Vaccination saves lives. Have your children vaccinated against measles,” Tayag explained.

He elaborated that children should get two doses of measles vaccine in order for them to have a lifelong immunity.

Vaccination drive is a way to help the country meet world targets in the Western Pacific Region to eliminate measles by 2017 and DOH also targets to achieve measles-free nation on the same year.

To realize this, a massive vaccination is set on September this year.

Lahat ng baby starting 6 months hanggang 59 months bibigyan ng bakuna regardless kung nagkatigdas na o tumanggap na ng bakuna, maliban na lang kung less than a month lang yung bakuna,” he added.

(All babies starting six months to 59 months shall be vaccinated whether they already had measles or they were already vaccinated, unless the vaccination was administered less than a month.)

Being measles-free means that in a population of 100 million, the laboratory-confirmed cases should not exceed 100 people.

“Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas!”


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