Measles Outbreak Declared in the Philippines, 70 Dead
The Philippines is facing a measles outbreak, with more than 70 deaths, mostly of children, reported last month.
Around 4,302 measles cases were reported in January, depicting an increase of 122% from last year January.
In Metro Manila last week, a measles outbreak was declared that could affect a population of 12 million living in slums. The crisis has been blamed on a backlash against vaccinations. Since the beginning of January, at least 55 children below the age of four have died because of measles in Manila.
A “red alert” crisis has been declared in Luzon and regions of Visayas by the health department.
“We are declaring an outbreak as cases have increased in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance of new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant,” said Francisco Duque, the health secretary.
Reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that more than 20,000 measles cases were reported in the Philippines by the end of December 2018, a 500% increase from the previous year.
According to UNICEF, only 55% of the Philippines population is vaccinated against the disease, while the measles outbreak could have been prevented if 95% of the population was immune. UNICEF also reported that the current vaccinated population is down 15% from the previous year.
The measles outbreak has been largely blamed on fear-mongering of vaccinations. The fear originated after a scandal involving dengue vaccination made people fear losing their children to other severe diseases. Dengvaxia, dengue vaccination that was given to children in the Philippines was believed to risking the lives of children. However, nothing was proved.
The report from the Epidemiology Bureau, shows that 79% of the people who died due to measles since the start of this year were not vaccinated.
According the WHO, since 2016, measles across the globe have been on rise. An increase of 30% has been reported. The measles outbreak in the Philippines is a result of lack of awareness and misinformation around vaccinations.
Similar outbreak was reported from the southern parts of Thailand in November 2018. Approximately 4,000 measles cases were reported that killed around 22 children.
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