DOH ups immunization campaign vs measles-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, October 6, 2013
DEPARTMENT of Health officials refocused their strategy to curb the increase of measles cases in the region.
DOH assistant regional director Amelita Pangilinan said, the agency is focusing on the improvement of the coverage rates to 95 percent. In the past immunization campaigns, the agency only mustered no more than 80 percent coverage.
Pangilinan said the low immunization coverage was traced as the reason for increasing measles cases.
From January to September, the DOH Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit reported some 212 percent increase in measles cases compared to last year. The number grew from 54 in 2012 to 169 cases this year.
Cases of measles also soared in Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Baguio city. In Benguet, the number of cases grew almost seven times since last year--from 7 to 45.
Baguio City also recorded a high case of measles from 17 cases in 2012 to 49 cases this year.
She explained routine immunization campaigns in health centers are low with many individuals missed out during the past "Ligtas Tigdas sa Pinas" campaign.
Pangilinan said, some members of a religious organization in Benguet province and other families are hesitant in receiving immunization.
Those missed out during immunizations were often afflicted with measles, an airborne viral infection that affects the respiratory system with common symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose and visible skin rashes, the health official added.
Another reason for the increasing measles cases were the supply shortage experienced in 2008 by immunization teams. At the time, offshore procurement of vaccines are often affected by shipment delays.
The DOH official said they are also looking into cold chain management and refrigeration of supplies so as not to affect the potency of the vaccines used in far-flung towns.
The DOH planned for a higher coverage of measles immunization at 95 percent in the Cordillera region to attain immunity of certain groups of people against the spread of the disease.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 07, 2013.