BARMM contains measles outbreak

BARMM contains measles outbreak

INOCULATED A barangay health worker in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao del Norte province inoculates a child in Barangay Macaguiling on April 15 as part of a massive immunization drive amid a measles outbreak in the Bangsamoro region. PHOTO COURTESY OF RURAL HEALTH UNIT OF SULTAN KUDARAT, MAGUINDANO DEL NORTE

COTABATO CITY, BARMM, Philippines — Local health officials announced on Tuesday that they were nearing their 1.3 million target in the massive vaccination drive that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) started this month to address the measles outbreak in the region.

Zyrus Dabuco, immunization program coordinator of the region’s Ministry of Health (MOH), credited the high vaccination turnout in six provinces of the BARMM and the 63 villages of the Special Geographic Area (SGA) to the support of Bangsamoro religious leaders.

READ: BARMM to immunize 1.3M children vs measles

Dabuco said that as of April 20, the number of children 10 years and below who received antimeasles shots already reached 1.03 million or 75.5 percent of the targeted 1.37 million children across the region.

He is confident that the MOH will hit its target as the vaccination continued with only a minimal hesitancy on the part of parents, thanks to the Bangsamoro religious leaders who endorsed the immunization campaign during their sermons at the mosques.

Religious leaders

Dabuco said these religious leaders were a big factor in the high vaccination rate in the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in the SGA.

The vaccination drive also covered some towns in Lanao del Norte that borders Lanao del Sur as an outbreak of the disease was also noted there.

MOH launched the aggressive antimeasles vaccination drive, which started on April 1 and targeted to continue until May 10, to address the measles outbreak that had already killed at least four and affected close to a thousand children in the region since January this year.

Dabuco, in the MOH radio program, “Suara Kalusugan,” lauded local governments, particularly those in the barangays, for the support they extended to health front-liners.

The MOH monitored 905 measles cases in the region from January to April 20.

Safe, effective

“We were able to contain the spread of measles because of the massive vaccination and because of the support of all major stakeholders, including the imams,” Dabuco said as the region celebrates the World Immunization Week starting Wednesday until April 30.

“Time and again, it has been proven that vaccination is safe, effective and protects children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dabuco said.

At the start of the campaign early this month, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa lauded the Bangsamoro village health workers for enduring the excruciating heat as they carried out the Measles Outbreak Response Immunization drive of the MOH which went on even during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Most vaccinators were fasting while doing the rounds until April 10 when Ramadan ended.

Herbosa also stressed the importance of vaccines and the future of Bangsamoro children.

“Vaccines are investments that have priceless benefits for the long-term development of a healthy Bangsamoro. Through these shots, we can enable our children to contribute to nation-building,” Herbosa said in a statement at the start of the campaign.

“Let us ensure that our children get to the point where they can shape the future of Bangsamoro by protecting their health through the help of vaccines today,” he added.