WHO warns vs regional resurgence of measles | Inquirer News

WHO warns vs regional resurgence of measles

/ 05:10 AM March 02, 2024

The WHO logo is pictured in Geneva  measles resurgence

The World Health Organization logo is pictured at the entrance of the WHO building, in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 20, 2021. (REUTERS)

The World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific on Friday warned that the continued upswing in measles cases in several countries, including the Philippines, may lead to a resurgence of measles in the region this year.

The Western Pacific office said the reported surge in measles cases in the Philippines and Malaysia may pose a risk for nations in the region that had already eradicated the highly contagious virus.


“Declines in vaccination coverage in several Western Pacific countries during the pandemic; ongoing measles outbreaks in the Philippines; and persistent endemic measles transmission in Malaysia all pose a threat of measles resurgence in the region [in] 2024 to 2025,” it said in a statement.


Stronger surveillance

While it recognized the Department of Health’s (DOH) monthlong supplemental immunization drive last year, WHO stressed the need for countries with active measles transmission, such as the Philippines, to build “strong early warning and disease surveillance systems with complete case investigations.”

Such case-finding strategies, it added, would help health authorities to quickly detect potential measles or rubella cases “before they become a larger outbreak.”

“Anytime there’s measles in a community, it is a threat. Even countries that have achieved elimination can’t relax,” said Saia Ma’u Piukala, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

He continued, “They have to maintain high coverage of measles vaccination and strong systems for picking up cases that get imported through international travel. Without this, measles transmission can become re-established.”

Rubella, also known as German measles, is caused by a different virus, but both are contagious and are transmitted when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.

These diseases, however, are “entirely preventable” when a person gets the complete two shots of measles vaccines.


READ: Making sense of the measles outbreak

The incidence of measles in the Western Pacific region spiked by 255 percent last year to a total of 5,044 cases compared to the 1,422 infections reported in 2022, based on WHO data.

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Under the “Chikiting Ligtas” program, the DOH fell short of its nationwide target to provide at least 90 percent of the 9.5 million unvaccinated children to protect them against measles, locally known as “tigdas,” as well as rubella. INQ

TAGS: measles, Outbreak, WHO

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