Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Department of Health has expanded its declaration of a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, to the Western Visayas, Calabarzon and Central Visayas.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transferred from person to person through sneezing, coughing and close personal contact. Its signs and symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes/conjunctivitis, fever and skin rashes lasting more than three days. Complications include bronchopneumonia, diarrhea, middle ear infection, encephalitis or swelling of the brain, malnutrition and blindness, which may lead to death.
The best defense against measles is immunization and vitamin A supplementation for nine-month-old children. Before this outbreak that the DOH attributes to “low vaccine coverage because of the Dengvaxia scare,” the country’s program against measles has been widely considered as effective. However, with more children non being vaccinated due to the irresponsible anti-vaccine tantrums of certain public officials who have inexplicably been allowed to undermine the government’s vaccination programs with neither reprimand nor sanction from the country’s leaders, we are facing an outbreak that has already taken the lives of 55 children.
The country’s vaccination coverage rate has dropped 60 percent following the controversy and hysterics surrounding Dengvaxia, led by the Public Attorney’s Office headed by Persida Acosta who insists on linking the dengue vaccine to the death of several children despite the absence of qualifications of her team and the lack of scientific proof.
The World Health Organization has also warned that if the low immunization rate is not addressed, the Philippines is in danger of seeing a reemergence of diseases like polio, pertussis and diphtheria that have already been controlled by vaccines.
The present administration did nothing while Acosta and like-minded personalities undermined the entire vaccination program with their irresponsible and noisy attack on the dengue vaccine. Now that the DOH has declared an outbreak after 55 children have conclusively died as a result of a disease that had been controlled that is rearing its ugly head once more after taking advantage of low vaccination coverage, is government finally going to do something about this problem that was on its way to being solved?*