737 measles cases, 8 deaths confirmed in CV
By Rachelle Nessia
CEBU CITY, March 11 (PIA) -- As of March 6 this year, eight children are confirmed dead in Central Visayas due to complications from measles.
With ages ranging between five months to two years old, the casualties are from Moalboal, San Francisco, Pinamungahan, Carcar City, Consolacion, Lapu-lapu City, and Cebu City.
Dr. Shelbay Blanco, medical officer of Department of Health (DOH) Region 7, said majority of the children who died were undernourished.
"Lack of nutrition is one factor why they were susceptible to develop complications from measles," said Blanco during the Kapihan sa PIA Cebu held March 6.
DOH-7 records show that a total of 737 measles cases have been reported in the region as of March 6.
Of the total, majority of the cases are in Cebu (512) followed by Negros Oriental (148), Bohol (70), and Siquijor (7).
This is 1,317 percent higher compared to the number of measles cases logged in the same period last year.
Most of those who were affected are less than five years old, while the oldest patient was at 70 years old.
Blanco said they expect more measles cases to be reported since DOH-7 has intensified its case findings and care reporting by including data from private clinics.
"We have coordinated with private physicians and private clinics. We expect that there will be more cases reported so we can have a clearer picture," he said.
Since the start of DOH's measles outbreak response immunisation in the region, a total of 145,399 individuals have been vaccinated against the deadly disease.
"We have already reached around 36 percent of our target immunisation which is 376,400. We're expecting more will be vaccinated since there are still some local government units that have yet to start their immunization in the schools," said Dr. Jeanette Paulino Cortes of DOH-7 in the same forum.
Although DOH is targeting the 6 to 59-months-old population for their immunization program - especially those who have not yet been immunized - the health department is also encouraging adults to avail of booster immunisation shots.
Cortes said they also welcome adults to avail of their vaccination drive, particularly those who are not sure if they have received nor completed the measles vaccine shots before, which is given in two doses.
Local Health Support Division Chief Dr. Jonathan Neil V. Erasmo of DOH-7, speaking in the same forum, said it is important for a person to complete the two vaccination doses especially during an outbreak.
DOH-7 has set up a vaccination post in their office grounds to give free measles vaccines which will extend until the end of March.
In addition to working with the Department of Education for their school immunisation activities, DOH-7 is also coordinating with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for anti-measles campaigns at the local government units (LGUs).
"Some LGUs have initiated their (immunisation drive) not only in the health centers but also in non-traditional sites like malls, piers, other areas where people congregate," said Erasmo. (rmn)