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Measles Outbreak Declared in Philippine Capital, Nearby Areas

09 February 2019

As of 26 January there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau.

Last year, there were 245 confirmed from out of the 1,052 suspected measles cases.

The UNICEF also vowed to support the Philippines in fighting measles by ensuring that vaccines are available.

Officials said the unusual spike in the number of deaths was due to a dengue vaccination scare in 2017 that prompted many parents to take their children out of the state immunization program.

An outbreak of measles has been declared in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas, which came following a dip in immunization coverage previous year following the controversy on anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Parents have been reluctant to have their children immunised at government health centres, after complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.

"Learning from the UNICEF family about the outbreak of the measles, you know, this is why it's very important to have proper immunization", Curtis said during an event by UNICEF.

Most of the dead are children and the toll is expected to rise as more cases are confirmed of the highly contagious disease, which has made a worldwide resurgence in recent years.

"He was saddened... That's why he wanted something done immediately", presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

It has been reported that even infants younger than nine months have been stricken with measles, at an age younger than is recommended to receive anti-measles vaccines.

The health department reported that vaccine coverage rate plunged to 40 per cent previous year (2018) from 70 per cent in 2017.

Filipino parents were urged on Saturday (Feb 9) to immunise their children against measles amid an outbreak that has killed more than 20 children in the Philippines since the start of the year. It said 60 had died, all of them children under 4.

This was largely blamed on the government's public attorney, Persida Acosta, who said she was preparing legal action against Aquino and Duque for dozens of deaths she attributed to Dengvaxia use.

It also has "supplemental immunization" covering local government units with measles cases. But the PAO chief said it was the DOH's duty to spread vaccine awareness. But Panelo said the PAO chief, as a lawyer, was merely looking out for her clients.

"I think it might be questioned before the courts somehow", he said.

"In this scenario we have a pool of children building up over time who are not protected and who are susceptible to measles", Dr Weiler said. It it likely to have fallen further past year.

Measles Outbreak Declared in Philippine Capital, Nearby Areas