In a statement released by UNICEF, the Philippines tops the charts in measles cases in 2019 alone. Just in the first two months, there’s a recorded 12,736 cases as well as 203 deaths. This measles outbreak is highly alarming when compared with the 15,599 cases in the entirety of 2018.
The Philippines is the second most affected country by the measles outbreak worldwide
“This is a wake up call. We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease. A vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades,” says Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow.”
According to the Department of Health, 1,411 measles cases were recorded on March 1 and 2. The most affected regions are Calabarzon and the National Capital Region (NCR). The former has 3,877 cases and 78 deaths while the latter has 3,617 cases and 76 deaths.
What are measles?
Measles, also known as rubeola, is a viral infection of the respiratory system. It is incredibly contagious—more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or influenza. What makes it worse is that it can be spread in numerous ways. Measles can be spread through contact with infected mucus or saliva. Additionally, the disease also infects the air when a sick person sneezes or coughs. Worst of all, the virus lives on surfaces for several hours. Once it infiltrates the respiratory system, it can kill malnourished kids as well as those who aren’t vaccinated. At present, there isn’t a treatment for patients with measles. For this reason, it is imperative for children to get vaccinated—addressing a potential problem beforehand.
UNICEF and the local government vaccinates Filipino kids
As a response to the alarming measles outbreak, UNICEF and the local government launch a vaccination campaign. With the help of social media, they aim to encourage parents, especially the apprehensive ones, to get their kids vaccinated. The organizations plan to visit 17 regions in the country to administer the vaccine to 9 million Filipino children.