THE Philippines ranked third worldwide with the highest incidence of measles over a 12-month period up to June this year with 45,847 cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It noted that, in just the first six months of 2019, the reported cases worldwide were the highest they have been in any year since 2006, with outbreaks straining health care systems, and leading to serious illness, disability, and deaths in many parts of the world.Â
“Major outbreaks are ongoing in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Thailand,” WHO said.
It also noted that the largest outbreaks happen in countries with low measles vaccination coverage, currently or in the past, which has left large numbers of people vulnerable to the disease.
Lack of access to quality health care or vaccination services, misinformation about vaccines and the low awareness about the need to vaccinate are among the reasons for the low vaccination coverage.
Madagascar ranked first with more than 150,000 of reported measles cases, followed by Ukraine with 84,300 cases.
DOH: Infants and toddlers most affected group
Based on the records from the Department of Health (DOH), 80 percent of the deaths due to measles in the country in the first half of the year were children aged 1 to 4 and infants below 9 months.
As of July 13, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces) had the highest incidence with 7,213 cases, or a 1,000-percent increase from just 632 cases in the same period last year. The region also recorded 123 fatalities — highest figure recorded with an increase of close to 2,000 percent from just six in 2018.
Other regions aside from Calabarzon that reported high incidence of measles were Metro Manila (6,969 cases and 114 deaths), Central Luzon (6,350 cases and 115 deaths), Western Visayas (2,379 cases and eight deaths) and Northern Mindanao (2,118 cases and 16 deaths).
The DOH noted that the immunization rate in the country dropped to just 40 percent early this year following the public’s growing fear of vaccines due to the controversy surrounding the use of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.