By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
More than one month after the measles outbreak was declared in Western Visayas, the number of suspected cases in the region is now at 1,317 as of March 15, 2019, according to the Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD)-6.
The health department said it has recorded 58 confirmed measles cases with five deaths so far.
The recent casualty was a 33-year-old male from Roxas City who succumbed to pneumonia, according to
Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe of DOH-6.
Negros Occidental still has the highest number of cases with 473, followed by Antique (231), Bacolod City (146), Iloilo Province (217), Aklan (93), Iloilo City (63), and Capiz (59), based on DOH-6 data.
More than half of the suspected measles cases belong to the age group of five years old and below at 626, followed by 16 years old and above (563) and 6-15 years old (128).
The health department said it continues to move to curb the increasing cases.
From Mar 4 to 15, DOH-6 together with the World Health Organization monitored and assessed the different areas in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City.
Regional monitoring teams were deployed weekly in hospitals, schools, and provincial health offices across the region.
As of Mar 15, DOH-6 reported a 20 percent vaccination coverage (116,321 individuals) of children 6-59 months old.
Moreover, 62,084 (or 35 percent) of the target Grade 1 and Grade 7 students were also vaccinated.
4,680 health workers were also included in the vaccination coverage and 16,849 belonged in the other age groups.
According to Vincent Sumergido, senior health program officer of DOH-6, their priority target for measles vaccination are still 6-59 months old children.
“Priority naton sa gihapon ang 6-59 months because they also have greater chances nga mapatay from complications,” he said.
But those who went to health centers will be vaccinated once there are extra shots, Sumergido added.
The health department is also conducting outbreak response immunizations in the region.
According to Sumergido, 32 local government units (LGUs) who conducted mass immunizations last year initiated catch-up immunization programs all throughout the region.
On the other hand, 101 LGUs are also currently conducting non-selective immunization.
Dr. Maria Sophia Pulmones, chief Local Health Support Division of DOH-6 underscored the need for LGUs to enhance their routine immunization and intensify their supplemental immunization activity.
“Naga-decrease ang number of cases but we still need to enhance the routine immunization of LGUs and intensify the supplemental immunization activity,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sumergido noted a change in the environment, particularly parents who once refused to get their children vaccinated.
“Naga-lain ang environment subong ang mga parents na ang ga-voluntary immunization and although may mga bata pa gihapon nga nahadlok, but our health workers have their own styles naman to administer vaccines,” he said.
The health department said they are targeting to finish the immunization for 6-59 months old by the end of March and the school-based immunization on April 5.