FOLLOWING the declaration of measles outbreak in some parts of the country, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas is urging concerned government agencies to immediately form Task Force Tigdas.
Vargas called on the Department of Health (DOH) to get the cooperation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Local Government Units (LGUs) and even Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) in forming a task force.
The main purpose of the special task force is to strengthen and intensify the campaign for measles prevention.
“Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains a cause of death among young children globally, therefore we are urging the DOH, DSWD, LGUs and BHWs to get ahead of the situation before it aggravates and form a ‘Task Force Tigdas’ to immediately address the possible outbreak,” Vargas said, as he is set to file a resolution for this matter.
Last week, the DOH confirmed an outbreak of measles in one barangay in Taguig City. Just recently the DOH reported outbreak in Negros Oriental affecting at least six barangays and even in Davao and Zamboanga cities with 222 cases.
According to the DOH, there is a three-fold increase in the number of suspected measles cases nationwide wherein a total of 887 cases reported from January 1 to February 3 this year. This is almost triple the number of cases reported last year of the same period with 293 cases.
Once the Task Force Tigdas is formed, Vargas said, it should focus on convincing the parents to let their children be given vaccination.
Citing World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, Vargas appealed to the DOH to intensify the immunization program especially to all susceptible children and adults for whom measles vaccination is not contraindicated.
The measles vaccine has been in use since 1960 and is safe, effective and inexpensive, according to the WHO.
“I fully understand the trauma caused by the Dengvaxia issue, but I am likewise appealing to the parents to trust the government in managing this measles problem. I am urging them to bring their children for vaccination against measles so that an outbreak of the disease could be prevented,” Vargas said.
Based on the initial assessment of the DOH officials, one of the factors for the outbreak was the low immunization coverage, following public health scare triggered by the controversial dengue vaccine immunization program.
The WHO said that routine measles vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with low routine coverage, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.
“The best prevention to this outbreak is by providing MMR vaccine and by cleaning our communities. Let us encourage our neighbors and friends to have their children vaccinated and use our bayanihan culture to help address this problem to bring the public trust back in the delivery of health services. Every Filipino deserves to be healthy and free from worry,” Vargas said.
Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhea and related dehydration, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.