Philippines: Measles Outbreak Information bulletin

This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Philippine Red Cross, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has determined that external assistance is not required, and is therefore not seeking funding or other assistance from donors at this time.

The situation

Cases of measles have been on the increase in the Philippines over the past several years, there have been outbreaks, but they have been mainly individual and isolated. From 2017 to 2018 measles cases rose nationwide by about 550 per cent above the normal average. During 2018, 21,812 measles cases were reported, with 202 deaths, most of them children.
Poor immunization coverage is broadly agreed by health specialists to be the root cause of the outbreak. The WHO has reported that immunisation rates were well below the target of 95 per cent and decreasing. In 2016 the rate was about 75 per cent but fell to close to 60 per cent in 2018. Its estimated over 2.4 million children under five are currently at risk of measles.

On 6 February 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a “measles outbreak” in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Region 3 (Central Luzon). On the 7 February 2019, DOH announced that the measles outbreak had spread to more areas in Luzon and Visayas in CALABARZON, Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Region 7 (Central Visayas). Unconfirmed reports from DOH report around 72 deaths among more than 2,000 cases of measles nationwide. While according to San Lazaro Hospital Epidemiology Department (Special National Hospital Medical Center for Infectious Diseases with a 500-bed capacity), there are 1,187 reported suspected measles cases in Metro Manila since January 2019, with 55 deaths. On 5 February 2019, at least 248 children and 21 adults were being treated for measles in the hospital. Most of the confirmed deaths are children aged three months to four years old. Cities in NCR with most cases are: Manila, Caloocan, Marikina, Pasig, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig, Pasay, and Malabon.

Below is a graphic reported by WHO showing the spread of measles cases throughout the Philippines 2017-2018.