THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 raised a code white alert for all public hospitals in the region on Sunday, Feb. 11, to prioritize the treatment of measles.
This, after the DOH central office declared a measles outbreak in nine regions, including Central Visayas, on Thursday, Feb. 7.
The alert status means all government-owned and DOH-retained facilities, equipment, supplies, and health personnel must be ready and alert to respond to emergencies caused by measles outbreak.
The DOH, however, also encouraged private hospitals to adopt similar measures.
Dr. Shelbay Blanco of DOH 7 said they would conduct an Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) and would activate measles fast lanes in hospitals to provide immediate medical attention to measles sufferers.
“With the declaration of code white, we will be conducting the ORI. All children aged six months to 59 months, (regardless of their vaccination status) will be given one dose of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV),” he said.
According to doh.gov.ph, during an ORI, all children aged six to eight months shall be given one dose of the MCV and be recorded as zero dose. Then the first dose must be given at nine months old or at least one month after the last dose. The second dose will be given at 12 months old.
Blanco said they already ordered government hospitals, barangay health centers and rural health units to set up vaccination posts.
Missing the target
“We will also be giving Vitamin A supplementation and we are currently coordinating with other stakeholders, with DepEd (Department of Education) and other provincial heads to promote vaccination and anti-measles strategies,” he said.
DOH 7 recorded 145 measles cases from Jan. 1 to Feb. 11 this year, with two deaths in Moalboal and in San Fernando.
“Based on statistics, the number of cases has reached 145, as of Feb. 11. Cebu has 101 cases; Bohol, seven; Negros Oriental, 37; and Siquijor, none,” said Blanco.
Measles, according to World Health Organization, is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus of the Paramyxovirus family and is normally passed through direct contact and through the air.
Ruff Vincent Valdevieso, coordinator of the Expanded Immunization Program of the DOH 7, said they aimed to immunize around 800,000 babies (aged six-59 months) last year, but was only able to immunize 300,000 babies.
“Many have been immunized in Cebu Province and Negros Occidental. But we will also include Siquijor, although it has not reported any cases. But as we have said, the disease is contagious. Siquijor is an island of mystique so it’s a destination. We’re anticipating that visitors from other parts of the country might have been contaminated and unwittingly infect residents,” he said in Cebuano.
In another development, Claire Amoro, an 18-year-old call center agent living in Barangay Kalawisan, Lapu-Lapu City, died from dengue last month.
Her mother Josephine said her daughter contracted high-grade fever on Jan. 23, which prompted her to bring Claire to the hospital.
The doctor, though, sent Claire home with a flu diagnosis.
The next, Claire underwent a complete blood count to monitor her platelet. Despite this, her daughter’s condition never improved.
On Jan. 29, Claire was rushed to the hospital because her nose and mouth were bleeding. She died shortly after she was admitted.
Following her death, barangay health workers in Kalawisan conducted misting operations to prevent the spread of dengue.
The Provincial Health Office earlier announced that it was expecting dengue cases to jump this year, based on the disease’s three-year peak cycle. The last time dengue cases spiked was in 2016. (Wenilyn Sabalo, USJ-R Intern, GCM of SuperBalita Cebu, JKV)