Vaccination, nurse deployment urged amid measles outbreaks

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Congressmen have urged parents to have their children vaccinated and school heads to take precaution against measles amid the outbreaks of the disease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

“We need to renew our trust to these tried and proven anti-measles vaccines. We cannot afford to risk further our children’s health because of some unfounded fear on the negative effects that may be caused by these vaccines. We note that these vaccines have long been used by health professionals to our people, including to ourselves when we were still young,” said KABAYAN Partylist Rep. Ron Salo on Thursday.

Salo also advised poor families with members infected with measles or showing symptoms of the disease to immediately go to hospitals and avail of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage for their treatment.

“PhilHealth will be there for the indigent families. Covered ng PhilHealth ang measles. Ang mahalaga, masuri ng doktor at malapatan agad ng lunas ang sinumang pasyente na mayroong measles. Buhay at kalusugan ang mahalaga,” he said.

“I point out the PhilHealth coverage for indigents because some families may hesitate in going to the doctor because they have no money. PhilHealth is there for our people, particularly the poor,” said Salo, one of the principal authors of the proposed Universal Health Care Act which is pending signing by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Barangay officials and personnel should also be ready to provides their constituents with the certificate of indigency and barangay clearance which may be needed by indigents to apply for PhilHealth coverage,” he added.

The House Deputy Majority Leader also urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to alert their field offices in Metro Manila and other regions affected by the outbreak so that the social workers there will be ready to quickly help the indigents avail of PhilHealth measles coverage.

Earlier, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that there are measles outbreaks in Metro Manila, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, and Central and Eastern Visayas.

For his part, 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list Rep. Bong Belaro asked the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education on Thursday to direct all school heads to take precautions against measles.

“Quick check screenings for fever, red eyes, cough, and rashes can be done at the campus gates by health personnel. Parents should be advised to not send their kids to school if they have the symptoms of measles. Instead of school, they should go to the nearest barangay health center or government hospital,” said Belaro.

“This is not the time for any quackery, unscientific home remedies, and unsanitary practices that can only make matters worse for any person, especially children, infected with measles,” the congressman from Goa, Camarines Sur added.

Meanwhile, Aangat Tayo Party-list Rep. Neil Abayon said some 2,000 Department of Education (DepEd) school nurses nationwide can be strategically deployed to localities where the incidence of measles is high to help contain the outbreaks.

However, Abayon admitted that 2,000 nurses is certainly not enough to attend to the health and nutrition of more or less 27.7 million school children and teenagers under DepEd’s care

Abayon pointed out that at the DepEd, the school nurse to student ratio is 1:5000.

“With this kind of policy, many schools have no school nurses on duty to take charge of the many school health and nutrition activities that riddle the school calendar every year,” he said.

Abayon, author of House Bill 7874, seeks the creation of the School Health and Safety Office (SHSO) in every public school, including state universities and colleges (SUC), nationwide. The country has 13,396 secondary schools (including 5,965 senior high schools), 38,648 elementary schools, and 112 SUC.

“The SHSO must be manned by qualified, licensed, and certified personnel. Having nurses is basic. At the minimum of one nurse per school, passage of this law would mean at least 52,156 new jobs for nurses at our public schools,” Abayon said.

“The School Health and Safety bill provides for two nurses for schools with up to 3,000 students and three nurses for schools with more than 3,000 enrolled,” Abayon also said.

HB 7874 also requires the hiring of doctors, dentists, guidance counselors, psychologists, psychometricians, emergency medical technicians, security guards, and utility workers for the School Health and Safety Office of the public schools.

“By deploying many nurses to the public schools, a heavy burden will be lifted from the shoulders of our public school teachers because they have been carrying the workload that health care professionals should have,” the AANGAT TAYO party-list congressman said.

“With HB 7874, primary responsibility for the school canteen, school nutrition program, immunization campaigns, campus security, and many other related non-teaching roles and functions will be vested upon the School Health and Safety Office of each public school, including state universities and colleges and public technical-vocational schools,” Abayon said.

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