The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has joined forces with multiple government agencies to tackle the ongoing measles outbreak in several regions of the country.

Image/Philippines DOH

“The Department of Health is working side by side with other government agencies in quickly responding to mitigate the Measles outbreak. This government is conducting a massive information dissemination and immunization campaign to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your community”, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

The DOH enlisted the assistance of the Department of Education (DepEd) in immunizing school-age children as part of its Measles Outbreak Response in a recently-held meeting.

Through the joint leadership of Secretary Duque and Secretary Leonor M. Briones of DepEd, the two agencies agreed to establish a task force that shall institute and coordinate monitoring mechanisms in schools and guidelines on information dissemination to strengthen the implementation of Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI).

Secretary Francisco Duque III said:

“The Department of Health is actively working with other government agencies to address the Measles outbreak. I’m grateful to Secretary Briones and the whole Department of Education for their cooperation and continued support.”

The DepEd shall gather essential data on measles cases from schools, collaborate with the health center staff to monitor absent pupils, and conduct measles evaluation by categorizing children as vaccinated, doubtful, or not vaccinated.

The health chief revealed that vaccination activities will be done in schools and communities until March, and expects that cases will start to decrease by that time as the number of susceptibles will have already been vaccinated come March. Adults who want to be vaccinated against measles can go to any health center.

To address the measles outbreak in the country, a measles fast lane in all DOH hospitals will be established, a checklist for LGUs and consent forms will be developed and coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be initiated to inform LGUs of their targets. The DILG will request the LGUs to extend their immunization schedules beyond regular working hours and possibly even on Saturday and Sunday.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will involve the day care workers for the vaccination of their pupils and enjoin 4Ps beneficiaries who are also parents to ensure their child is vaccinated, while the Department of Education will gather data on how many school children were affected with measles, coordinate with the health center for absent pupils and do follow-up on school children opting to be vaccinated by a private practitioner.

The Department of Transportation, on the other hand, will assist in distributing vaccines and other logistics needed, especially in times of emergencies, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy medical personnel in geographically isolated depressed areas or in conflict areas, monitor cases in military treatment facilities and ensure the safety of health workers.

The Philippine Information Agency will continue to advocate and promote awareness and will ensure that messages crafted in the local vernacular will reach every barangay.

Earlier this week, the DOH reported a total of 4,302 measles cases have been reported from 1 January to 9 February, including 70 fatalities.

Sixty-six percent of them had no history of vaccination against measles. Of the fatalities, 79% had no history of vaccination.

Philippines: Anne Curtis appointed as UNICEF national goodwill ambassador, Vaccinations a priority

Philippines health secretary: ‘We expect a rise in the number of vaccine-preventable diseases in the near future’

Measles outbreak in the Philippines: 4,300 cases, 70 deaths; MMR shortage or Dengvaxia scare?