WHO urges states to boost drive vs measles
MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to intensify their campaigns on raising awareness on the importance of vaccination, especially since preliminary global data showed measles cases in the first quarter of the year had already risen by 300 percent.
Based on WHO’s provisional data as of April, 112,163 measles cases have already been reported worldwide, an increase of around 300 percent from last year’s 28,124 cases.
The top 10 countries that recorded a high number of measles cases are Madagascar, Ukraine, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Venezuela, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
According to the WHO, measles is “almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.” But it can still spread fast, especially if a lot of unvaccinated people are clustered in an area.
In 2017, nearly 110,000 died from the disease.
That is why the WHO recommended that governments tailor fit their approaches to ensure that everyone could be immunized.
“Responding to measles requires a range of approaches to ensure all children get their vaccines on time, with particular attention to access, quality, and affordability of primary care services,” the WHO said. “It will also take effective public-facing communication and engagement on the critical importance of vaccination and the dangers of the diseases they prevent.”
Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) blamed the measles outbreak to the drop in the immunization rate due to the controversy surrounding the implementation of the antidengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
As of April 5 this year, the DOH recorded 28,362 measles cases nationwide, up from the over 6,000 cases recorded in the same period last year.
To address the outbreak, the DOH mounted another round of supplemental immunization program targeting 3.8 million children aged 6 months to 59 months. The agency completed the vaccination of all these children last month, according to Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo.
A school-based immunization program for children in kinder to sixth grade was also mounted by the DOH. But due to the summer break, these kids will be inoculated instead in health centers.
Domingo said that they would resume the program in schools in June to ensure that all children would be covered and protected from the disease.
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