By Ivy Tejano
DAVAO CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) 11 is set to conduct a catch-up measles immunization campaign in the Davao Region starting this month.
This was disclosed by Davao Center for Health Development Regional Director Dr. Annabel Yumang after the DOH recorded 1,754 cases of the vaccine-preventable disease in 2019.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transmitted from person-to-person through sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its signs and symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes/conjunctivitis, fever, skin rashes lasting for more than three days.
The disease’s complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (swelling of the brain), malnutrition, blindness which may lead to death.
In a health advisory obtained from the DOH-Davao, it was noted that of the areas in Region 11, Davao City registered the most number of cases of measles with 683 and nine deaths; followed by Davao del Norte with 395 cases and five deaths; Davao de Oro comes third with 235 cases and two deaths.
Davao Oriental had 289 cases with no fatality; Davao del Sur with 127 cases and no death; and the least recorded measles cases was Davao Occidental with only 25 cases and zero fatality.
The health advisory showed that the most affected age group were those who were less than one-year old at 35 percent, while 20 percent were among the one-to-four-years old.
Most of the cases had no history of vaccination at 69.6 percent, while the rest had incomplete vaccinations. In addition to that, 90 percent of the deaths recorded were children younger than five years old.
Yumang said she has already instructed all local health authorities to prioritize those unvaccinated children and those children who have missed a measles containing vaccine dose for the catch-up immunization.
She also directed for the prioritization of barangays with cluster of measles cases, including the hard to reach or geographically isolated, urban poor and depressed areas.
Meanwhile, the DOH-Davao assured that the measles outbreak in Mati City in Davao Oriental last December 2019 has now been contained.
Mati Health Officer Dr. Ben Hur Catbagan said that the measles vaccine arrived at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine on December 22, 2019 and are now being processed for distribution.
Catbagan said they have strengthened their surveillance measures down to the barangay level. He added that the city health office has also provided supportive medications to prevent complications.
Parents and school authorities were also advised to seek early treatment for fever and rash complainants. The health experts also encouraged for the quarantine of patients for two weeks with frequent monitoring by health workers. Isolation rooms for pedia and adults measles patients are also now being prepared at the hospital.
“We need support for the additional personnel to man the isolation wards since most of our health personnel will be utilized in the third round of the polio immunization campaign slated to start on Januar 20 until February 2 this year,” Catbagan said.
Catbagan also said that they have observed a decrease on the number of admission of measles patients to 1 or 2 per day in Mati City though, but admitted that measles transmission is still happening in some areas of the city.
Yumang said they are sustaining their advocacy measures by giving public health warning and advisory on how to prevent transmission of measles.