Failure of health system leads to measles outbreak – UNICEF
MANILA, Philippines — An outbreak of measles can be traced to the “failure of the health system,” a representative of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.
“I think, it’s unfortunately, failure of the health system,” Lotta Sylwander said when asked about the possible reason for a measles outbreak.
“Not providing the vaccines, the sort of distribution chain of vaccines to health clinics, even down to the barangay level have not worked properly,” she added.
Sylwander also pointed out the need for a “dramatic effort” by the health system to combat the measles outbreak.
“It really needs a dramatic effort by the health system to actually have vaccines ready for children when they need them. And that’s what hasn’t happened.”
The Department of Health in Wednesday declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila following a 550 percent increase in the number of patients with measles from January 1 to February 6 this year compared to the same period last year.
An alarming rise in the number of measles cases has also been reported and recorded in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol region.
Although UNICEF has been working side-by-side with the DOH, Sylwander noted that things must be done differently as the measles outbreak is an emergency.
“We recognize and we actually have been talking to DOH about this for a long time, saying this is an emergency. It’s not business as usual. We need to do things differently, things need to change very quickly,” Sylwander said.
Sylwander likewise deplored the declining immunization rate in the country.
“Unfortunately, the vaccination and the immunization rates have been declining for quite some time in the Philippines. I understand it’s now down to 74% of the population being immunized whereas 10 or 15 years ago it was as high as 88% which is very good on the global scale,”
“And so coming down to 64 and 24 in some areas in Mindanao, that’s a health emergency. And this year, only in January, already 55 children have died from measles. That’s unacceptable.” /gsg
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.